Is trauma impacting your life? Do you feel disconnected from your loved ones, yourself, your body and your environment? Do you want to experience freedom from both the physical and emotional symptoms that are holding you back? Chinese medicine may be the right approach to help you get back in touch with your wholeness and wellness.
What is trauma and who does it affect?
Trauma results from experiencing a perceived (consciously or unconsciously) life threatening event that leaves us feeling out of control and helpless. Most of us have experienced some sort of trauma. The same event can affect each person differently, depending on age, trauma background, family history, genetic make-up, etc. The resulting expressions vary from relatively minor symptoms to completely debilitating physical and emotional manifestations. No matter the severity, trauma often leaves us unable to fully experience life. Trauma does not have to arise from a major catastrophe (war, abuse, rape, neglect, major injuries or illness); other things such as minor car accidents, surgery, natural disasters and loss of a loved one can also result in trauma.
Ultimately, trauma is about a loss of connection to our world- our loved ones, ourselves, our bodies and our environment.
Signs and symptoms of trauma may range from emotional to physical, such as:
- chronic pain
- inability to relax
- low stress resiliency
- strong startle response
- anxiety, insomnia
- sensitivity to light and sound
- lack of self-worth
- challenges to keep up with basic self-care
- avoidance behaviors (addictions)
- feeling “broken”
- challenges in having healthy connected relationships
- spaced out feeling, forgetfulness
- flashbacks of traumatic event(s)
- numbed emotional response
- chronic fatigue
- digestive problems
- skin disorders
- depression and suicidal ideation
Is trauma blocking your way to health?
Unresolved trauma can block our road to healing from both emotional and physical dis- ease. Research is now showing that the amount of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) we have may impact how well we heal from chronic illnesses, as well as affect behavior (e.g. drug and alcohol abuse) and life potential (graduation rates, academic achievement). If you’re interested to learn more, here is a great TED talk about the effect of ACEs on health.
However, there is hope! Chinese medicine with its powerful modalities, that include acupuncture, herbs, bodywork and energy work, are very effective at resolving the physical and emotional effects of trauma. Chinese medicine does not separate mind and body, and an individual is always treated holistically. It can clear the way to allow for effective treatment of many different health concerns associated with trauma, including but not limited to depression and anxiety, but is also far-reaching to many other chronic illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Clearing the way with Chinese Medicine
Ancient Chinese medical texts tell us that when one’s spirit (their shen) is disrupted by an extreme emotion, it will damage and upset the flow of that person’s vital energy (qi). When qi and its flow are negatively affected this impacts all of our systems and ability to live fully. Chinese medicine (including acupuncture, herbs, bodywork and energy work) addresses these imbalances at their root by returning the qi to a state of balanced flow, clearing the path to healing. Therefore, someone suffering from past trauma is supported to heal on all levels- physical, mental/emotional, spirit and soul, by this powerful system of medicine.
“I believe not only that trauma is curable, but that the healing process can be a catalyst for profound awakening- a portal opening to emotional and genuine spiritual transformation.” Peter Levine, trauma expert .
How does Acupuncture treat trauma?
Chinese medicine is particularly effective in the treatment of trauma as it looks at the root of the disease in addition to treating symptoms. It is like a gardener looking at the leaves and flowers of a sick plant, the soil in which it grows, and its season and environment in order to truly understand the root cause of its disease. An acupuncturist uses information from your health history, pulse and tongue to guide the treatment. This modality strives to go deep and address the original wound. Therefore trauma can be resolved without unearthing the details of the traumatic event and potentially re-traumatizing the individual. It is a great place to start even if you have not yet fully or even consciously processed the events of your trauma, as well as a powerful place to continue your healing journey.
A skilled, trauma-informed acupuncturist will help you:
- reconnect to your body
- feel safe in your body
- re-establish your healthy boundaries
- release the body memory of past trauma
- reclaim your energy and vitality
- increase your stress resiliency
Treatment with acupuncture is effective whether done immediately after a traumatic event or much later, even years. It is important to find a trauma-informed acupuncturist who can adjust treatment to make sure that the trauma survivor’s needs and safety are prioritized. Healing from trauma is big, courageous work; why not get all the support available?
Inez Coppola LAc is a Chinese medicine practitioner at Heart Spring Health in Portland, OR. Inez creates a caring, safe space for her patients and places their needs and feeling of safety above all else. She weaves together acupuncture, bodywork and other modalities to unlock each patient’s potential to feel fully alive. To learn more about Inez, visit www.heartspringhealth.com and www.inezcoppola.com. To schedule an appointment please call Heart Spring Health at (503)956-9396.