How Trauma Symptoms Help Clients Survive

Quick Tip from International Trauma Expert Plus Free CE

Janina Fisher, Ph.D.

The effects of trauma often endure for weeks, months, years, even decades afterward. It is a living legacy.

Unlike the feelings we have about relics of the past, such as a grandmother’s vase, a father’s watch, or a mother’s ring, a living legacy is not recognizable as an antique. The living legacy of trauma manifests in intense physical, perceptual, and emotional reactions to everyday things – rarely recognizable as past experience. These emotional and physical responses, called “implicit memories,” keep bringing the trauma alive in our bodies and emotions again and again, often many times a day. Reactivated in day-to-day life by apparently harmless reminders related to the original situation or situations, our bodies tense up, our hearts pound, we see horrifying images, and we feel fear, pain, or rage. We feel loneliness and heartache even when surrounded by people who care about us.

But trauma does not just leave behind terrible memories that disrupt the sleep and waking lives of survivors. The living legacy of trauma consists of a gamut of symptoms and difficulties, most of which are unrecognizable as trauma-related.

A traumatic event is just an event. The living legacy of one overwhelming event or a lifetime of such events is an array of symptoms and difficulties common to individuals who have been traumatized. As your client takes in all the different effects caused by traumatic experiences, help them to see which are most familiar. Each represents a way that their mind and body adapted to threat and danger, to being trapped, to being too young or too powerless.

In this short video, I walk through a diagram I use with clients to help them understand how their symptoms have actually helped them survive. Join me to understand how symptoms such as depression, irritability, and numbing enable trauma survivors to manage their feelings and body responses.

To learn more about how to help your clients transform the living legacy of trauma, join internationally recognized trauma expert, Dr. Janina Fisher, in this FREE 1-hour CE training.

*This is an adapted excerpt from Transforming the Living Legacy of Trauma by Janina Fisher. Copyright © 2021, Janina Fisher. PESI Publishing & Media.

Transform traumatic experiences with this...
Dr. Janina Fisher, international expert on trauma, has spent over 40 years working with survivors, helping them to navigate the healing journey.

In Transforming the Living Legacy of Trauma, Janina shows how the legacy of symptoms helped them survive and offers:
  • Step-by-step strategies that can be used on their own or in collaboration with a therapist
  • Simple diagrams that make sense of the confusing feelings and physical reactions survivors experience
  • Worksheets to practice the skills that bring relief and ultimately healing

Transforming the Living Legacy of Trauma is a workbook and guide to the journey to healing. As a ‘guidebook,’ it describes the terrain to be explored, and it provides maps to help travelers find the best routes to a life beyond trauma. Get your copy on Amazon today!
Meet the Expert:
Janina Fisher, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist and former instructor at The Trauma Center, a research and treatment center founded by Bessel van der Kolk. Known as an expert on the treatment of trauma, Dr. Fisher has also been treating individuals, couples and families since 1980.

She is past president of the New England Society for the Treatment of Trauma and Dissociation, an EMDR International Association Credit Provider, Assistant Educational Director of the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute, and a former Instructor, Harvard Medical School. Dr. Fisher lectures and teaches nationally and internationally on topics related to the integration of the neurobiological research and newer trauma treatment paradigms into traditional therapeutic modalities.

She is co-author with Pat Ogden of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy: Interventions for Attachment and Trauma (2015) and author of Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors: Overcoming Internal Self-Alienation (2017) and the forthcoming book, Working with the Neurobiological Legacy of Trauma (in press).

Learn more about their educational products, including upcoming live seminars, by clicking here.

Topic: Trauma

Tags: Anxiety | Body | Shame | Trauma | Trauma Treatment | Video

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