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Unveiling the Complexities of Trauma – Therapy Services in Toronto

Woman relaxing at home, reflecting on her progress from trauma therapy in Toronto
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Unveiling the Complexities of Trauma – Therapy Services in Toronto
We are living in an uncertain world right now. From childhood abuse to war to climate change, there are long, unspoken, and unfathomable shadows cast on our lives, either directly or vicariously. In today’s world, our experiences often exceed our capacity for sense-making. As a result, it has become even more crucial to talk about trauma and how therapy can help make sense of it, in a small or large way.

What is trauma?


At its core, trauma refers to an overwhelming experience that exceeds one’s ability to cope. It’s a complex and multifaceted experience that affects individuals in profound ways, shaping our thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and relationships. Trauma is not necessarily an event itself but the experience of an event. Therefore, a crucial aspect of trauma is its subjective nature. What may be traumatic for one person might not have the same impact on another. Additionally, trauma can be one discrete event or many events over time.

To name just a few, trauma symptoms include anxiety, depression, flashbacks, nightmares, difficulty concentrating, irritability, hypervigilance, and avoiding situations that remind one of the trauma. These symptoms can significantly disrupt daily functioning and diminish our overall quality of life.

What is trauma-informed therapy?


Trauma-informed care is part of most, if not all, therapeutic approaches today.
It tailors the approach to the unique experience of a person coping with trauma and validates their experiences.

Trauma-informed therapy recognizes that a person who has experienced trauma may have certain physiological, behavioural, and emotional responses to stressors. Therefore, rather than focusing on just the symptoms, a trauma-informed therapist looks at the underlying experiences leading the person to those responses.

This therapeutic approach understands that within the fabric of trauma is the individual’s social placement in society, their unique ways of thinking, feeling, and acting that they have developed in order to survive the trauma. It processes the meaning one has made about themselves related to the event. Some common core beliefs people reach about themselves after experiencing trauma are:
  • I have no control.
  • I am not safe.
  • I am unlovable.
  • I am worthless or unworthy.
  • I should have done something or known better.
  • I am powerless or weak.


How does trauma-informed therapy help?


It attempts to create a safe space.

This includes not just physical, but emotional safety too. A therapist does not necessarily question the validity or reality of an individual’s experience. We instead focus on how the experience can be transformed so that the individual can live with and move on from it.

It attempts to rebuild trust and connection.

Trauma at its core often involves the violation of some kind of personal boundary. A trauma-informed therapeutic space recognizes this violation and reaffirms the significance of being heard and acknowledged. Through the therapeutic relationship, individuals learn to establish boundaries, communicate effectively, and cultivate healthy relationships. Most importantly, it attempts to restore the belief that such relationships are indeed possible.

It acknowledges the mind-body connection between trauma and healing.

Trauma can manifest not just emotionally but also physically, behaviourally, and in relational patterns. Trauma-informed therapists are attuned to these manifestations and recognize the interconnectedness of mind and body. Various techniques are incorporated into the therapy to help the individual regulate themselves while processing traumatic memories.

It works on processing trauma so the wound can heal.

By processing trauma in a safe therapeutic environment, the individual can begin to view the trauma and themselves from a different perspective. There are different evidenced-based therapeutic modalities for trauma work, but it is important to find a therapist who has extensive training and knowledge. When we heal our trauma, it will no longer cause us the same level of distress and can allow us to engage in more effective thought, behaviour and relational patterns.

It promotes empowerment and choice.

The more we work through trauma, the less hold it starts to have on us. The invasion and choicelessness that comes with trauma starts to lift and confidence starts to grow. Therapy is collaborative. Individuals are encouraged to actively participate in identifying their goals, strengths, and preferences for treatment. It puts us back in the driver’s seat of our lives and helps us take that agency back.

It helps build resilience and reconnection with personal values.

Trauma often involves experiences of grief and loss, whether it be the loss of safety, trust, or relationships. Therapy provides an opportunity to mourn these losses and find meaning in the experiences. By enhancing self-awareness, self-regulation and problem-solving, the individual is able to reconnect with intrinsic motivators that give a sense of meaning and purpose in life.

Overall, trauma therapy is difficult work because it involves confronting the past and sitting with difficult emotions. However, the advantages can be tremendous. Healing from trauma involves a holistic approach that will benefit the mind and body. It will empower you to reclaim your life, foster resilience, and thrive beyond trauma.

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