Many individuals grappling with the effects of trauma turn to avoidance as a coping mechanism.
While it may provide temporary relief, avoidance ultimately hinders the brain’s ability to heal from trauma and can progressively take over one’s life.
This essay explores the concept of trauma avoidance, its manifestations, and the critical role of therapy, including neurofeedback and EMDR, in breaking the avoidance cycle and achieving lasting healing.
Understanding Trauma Avoidance.
Trauma avoidance is a typical emergency response for those who have experienced traumatic events.
It stems from the innate desire to regain control and safety when one feels helpless and vulnerable.
Initially, avoidance may offer comfort and distance from traumatic memories, but it thwarts the brain’s natural healing process over time.
Additionally, avoidance can expand to encompass various aspects of an individual’s life, limiting their ability to engage fully in life experiences.
Manifestations Of Trauma Avoidance.
- Avoidance Of Obvious Trauma Reminders: People often avoid explicit reminders of their trauma. For instance, someone who survived a car accident might avoid the street where it occurred to prevent anxiety and distress from resurfacing.
- Avoidance Of Intimacy And Emotional Vulnerability: Many forms of trauma originate within relationships, leading individuals to avoid seeking help due to the need for trust and vulnerability. This avoidance can manifest as intimacy avoidance and emotional numbing.
- Avoidance Of Less Obvious Trauma Reminders: Trauma survivors may struggle with less apparent but relevant reminders. For example, a song that holds special meaning for an individual’s parents may evoke negative emotions as it reminds them of the pain experienced within their family.
- Using Substances To Numb: Some individuals resort to drugs or alcohol to temporarily numb their thoughts and feelings. While intoxicated, they experience euphoria and relief from traumatic memories. However, this method is temporary, and the memories return once the effects disappear.
- Avoidance Due To Overwhelming Distress: Trauma survivors often avoid triggers because the distress they experience is too overwhelming. This avoidance results in feelings of anxiety, powerlessness, fear, and self-medication through withdrawal.
Breaking The Trauma Avoidance Cycle.
The trauma avoidance cycle resembles a vicious cycle where avoidance begets more avoidance, and the individual’s life progressively shrinks.
To break this cycle, seeking therapy from a qualified trauma specialist is essential.
Therapeutic Approaches For Healing Trauma.
- Neurofeedback Therapy: Neurofeedback therapy is a practical approach for individuals with trauma. It helps regulate brain activity, reducing the hyperarousal associated with trauma. Research indicates its benefits in trauma recovery.
- EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization And Reprocessing): EMDR is another evidence-based therapy that aids trauma recovery. It helps individuals process traumatic memories in a controlled and manageable way, reducing their emotional distress.
Therapy aims to ensure that traumatic memories no longer provoke distress.
With the support of a trained therapist, individuals can confront and process their trauma in a safe environment.
Therapy, Avoidance, And Trauma.
Avoidance plays a crucial role in preventing trauma survivors from recovering.
By analogy, it’s easy to see how someone who suffers an injury, such as back pain, can find themselves stuck in a vicious cycle of avoidance.
If that person decides that they are going to avoid all discomfort, then they will steer clear of even the most mild workouts.
Over time, they will weaken and lose conditioning in other body parts.
They may limit their life activities because they “are afraid to set their back off.”
This is the trauma avoidance cycle.
In the end, therapy is the best way to cope and resolve your trauma.
In this day and age, an established body of research guides the work of a good trauma specialist.
They will work with you and help you face what you’ve been through in a manageable way.
Techniques such as neurofeedback and EMDR have proven to be very helpful in helping people with trauma find relief.
This is more than simply facing fears. It’s more about participating in a tested process in which you are in control.
The goal, in the end, is to ensure that your traumatic memories no longer cause distress at all.
With the support of a therapist, you can close those doors so that you no longer have to be afraid.
Trauma can affect you in all kinds of ways, including avoidance.
Although avoidance may work in the short term, it isn’t a long-term solution for coping with trauma.
Instead, the way forward is through therapy with the support of a trained and experienced counselor.
Trauma avoidance is a typical response to the distressing effects of PTSD/C-PTSD.
While it may provide temporary relief, it ultimately hinders the brain’s ability to heal from trauma and can lead to a shrinking of one’s life.
Seeking therapy with the support of a trauma specialist is the most effective way to break the trauma avoidance cycle and achieve lasting healing.
Trauma therapy, including neurofeedback and EMDR, offers individuals a path to confront and process their traumatic experiences in a manageable and controlled manner.
With the guidance of a therapist, the doors to fear can be closed, and the cycle of avoidance can be left behind.
If you’re wondering whether you or someone you know needs help to heal with C-PTSD/PTSD, and you connected with any part of this post and are presently searching for a counselor, we would be honored to offer our support to you.
At Evergreen Counseling, we understand the importance of finding a therapist who resonates with you.
We invite you to take the next step toward your well-being by booking a complimentary 20-minute consultation call with us.