Healthy Bodies, Minds and Spirits: Coping with Trauma
This video was designed as a resource for individuals coping with trauma. In the video, you meet three practitioners who introduce the approaches listed on the back of this page. They explain how these practices can help heal some physical effects of trauma and walk you through trying the techniques.
Traditional treatment around trauma has largely focused on healing emotional and psychological impacts through psychotherapy. While psycho-therapy remains a critical part of responding to trauma, recent research tells us that trauma also affects us neurologically – or in a way that physically alters the brain. When the brain is physically altered by a traumatic experience, this is known as the neurobiology of trauma.
What is trauma?
Trauma is a person's mental, emotional and physical response to a physically or emotionally harmful or threatening experience. This experience can be a single incident or a series of events over time. Trauma can have lasting negative effects on the individual's psychological, physical, social, emotional and/or spiritual well-being.
What are examples of traumatic experiences?
A traumatic experience can be a single incident – such as theft, motor vehicle accidents, natural disasters, isolated acts of violence, and other crimes – or a series of events or circumstances over time – such as sexual or physical abuse, neglect, school or gang violence, divorce/custody battle, and war. Witnessing or hearing about a traumatic experience can also cause a traumatic response.
What are some symptoms of trauma?
Stress-related trauma can be characterized by specific symptoms, including negative and uncontrollable thoughts, startling easily, flashbacks, nightmares, sleep disturbances, changes in memory and/or concentration.
Because we now understand that trauma physically affects different parts of our brain, we can use different approaches that help to rebuild and retrain those parts that have been damaged. These approaches work with our physical body and our senses, and are called somatic approaches.
Examples of Somatic Approaches to Coping with Trauma
Click on each technique below to view the corresponding instructional video
Joey Corcoran is a licensed Mental Health Counselor, and the founder of Mindful Rest Counseling and Classes. Her approach combines Somatic Experiencing with Mindfulness to help cope with stress, heal wounds from the past, and find ways to bring ease into everyday life. www.mindfulrest.com
Tracy Penfield is an Artist and Educator, and the founder of SafeArt. Her practice of Embodied Energy Work combines energy healing, movement, yoga, dance and mindfulness. By tapping into the brain paths that are traced over a lifetime, she offers a chance to heal physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. www.safeart.org
Deb Sherrer, M.A. is a Psychotherapist and Therapeutic Yoga Instructor at the Vermont Center for Integrative Therapy, and has studied and practiced ways in which yoga can reduce the effects of PTSD. She uses Trauma- Sensitive Yoga to help address specific treatment issues by soothing the stress response in the body and mind. www.vtcit.com
Healthy Bodies, Minds and Sprits is a DVD created by the Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services and the United States Attorney’s Office, District of Vermont. Please contact these offices for more information.
Music by Spencer Lewis
This project is supported by a National Crime Victims' Rights Week Community Awareness Project subgrant, awarded by the National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators under a Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant, from the office fro Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.