For Counselling CALL : +2349034429130

How Does Psychotherapy Help With Trauma Memories?

How Does Psychotherapy Help With Trauma Memories? March 9, 2024Leave a comment

I often get this question from clients who are entering into therapy for trauma recovery. One of the devastating experiences of individuals who are suffering from unresolved trauma is the experience of intrusive memories. Intrusive memories are recurrent, unwanted and distressing memories or recollections of a past traumatic event which the individual finds uncontrollable. Besides the particular traumatic event, these memories may also bring along with them, recollections of physical and emotional pains as well as loses which resulted from the traumatic event. These memories can be so distressing to the point of causing physiological symptoms such as sweating, heart palpitations, shaking, and causing the individual to cry. Distressing memories can continue for a long time or even decades after the traumatic event if the trauma is not resolved. In order to avoid the pains associated with these memories, the individual often engages in a behaviour known as avoidance which involves avoiding cues or things that remind them of the traumatic event. Unfortunately, the more the person engages in avoidance behaviour, the more powerful- distressing the trauma memories become. Hence, it is usually one of the trauma symptoms that clients often desire to quickly get rid off as soon as they commence psychotherapy sessions. So, how does psychotherapy help with these memories? Psychotherapy does not totally eliminate memories of trauma. However, psychotherapy can help in the following ways :

  • It can help to reduce the frequency of the memories- how often the individual experiences the memories. Therapy can help to the point that the memories are rarely experienced. For instance, a person who was experiencing such memories several times in a day and almost everyday of the week can get to a point where they only experience the memories once in a week or once in several months or where the person no longer experiences the memories unless they come in contact with a reminder.
  • Psychotherapy can help the client to process and confront their trauma- The individual is helped to talk about their trauma, gain better understanding of the thoughts and emotions resulting from their traumatic experience, accept them, give healthy expressions to them and regulate them. At this point, the survivor is able to deal with these thoughts and emotions better as opposed to avoiding them as was the case.
  • It can help the individual to interpret their traumatic experience in a way that eliminates the negative thoughts and beliefs earlier given to the traumatic event (which are distressing on their own) by replacing them with healthy or more self- supporting thoughts and beliefs.
  • It can help to reduce the intensity of the distress or pain accompanying the memories
  • It can help to neutralize or break the strength of the negative association between the traumatic event and triggers – things that previously served as trauma triggers. This means that the individual can now face things that previously triggered the trauma memories without associating them with the trauma.
  • Psychotherapy can get the individual to a point where the trauma memory itself becomes a reminder of their strength and victory rather than a reminder of their pain. At this point, the individual has fully integrated their trauma. The memories are no longer intrusive and they no longer hurt even when they are experienced.

For more information or help for yourself or someone you care for, send your a whatsapp message to 09034429130 or email: raphacounselling@yahoo,com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Let others know about this page

Looking for an Outstanding Child Therapist?

WhatsApp chat