Most people think of trauma as something that is really horrific, that someone else has experienced. Most people recognize that having been molested or finding out a close friend committed suicide is traumatic. These types of trauma are what some psychologists call big “T” trauma. If on the other hand you were exposed to continuous arguing by your parents growing up, or had a few incidences of being called names from other children, these in themselves don’t usually have the same impact as the large “T” trauma when it happens, however over time it can ultimately have a similar impact as the larger trauma. This is what some psychologists call little “t” trauma. Both impact us in negative ways.
Neuroscience today has helped us understand that our brain actually stores these trauma experiences in the form we experience them(mentally, emotionally and physically) If we reacted with fight, flight or freeze when exposed to trauma, our subconscious (amygydala) stores the memory in this form. Thus when we experience something similar (from any of our senses) we can feel the same type of pain or need to fight, flee, or freeze. Most of the time we don’t connect with this understanding, we just think we are fearful, or anxious, or even out of control.
Examples of Big “T” trauma:
- Sexual Abuse/Molestation/ Rape
- MVA involving threatened real or threatened loss or injury
- Experiencing a Natural Disaster
- Physical/Emotional Abuse
- Invasive Dental Work
- Birthing Experience with unexpected medical intervention or loss
- Told you have a Life Threatening Illness
Examples of Small “t” trauma:
- Not being chosen to play with on the playground or in gym
- Being called names or put down
- Break-up suddenly by significant other/ affair
- Doing something extremely embarrassing publicly
- Parental Neglect
- Not being invited to a party that includes many friends
- Experiencing a smaller injury that affects confidence
- Making a mistake in front of others and being laughed at
Brainspotting is one of the most powerful techniques to help release and reprocess all of the above. Your brain will release the way the memory was stored so you can have new meaning. EMDR is extremely helpful as well.