What is Interpersonal Trauma?
Being involved in a traumatic experience can leave its mark. While it is normal to go through distress for days or even weeks after the traumatic event, these feelings usually subside on their own. But if this distress becomes too strong and starts interfering with your day-to-day life, even long after the incident, it could be that what you are experiencing is not normal stress but Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There are two primary types of trauma. One is accidental trauma, where the distress results due to an accident and the harm is not intentionally inflicted—for example, witnessing a car accident, a severe illness, death of a loved one, an act of terrorism or war, etc. On the other hand, in interpersonal trauma, the sufferer is intentionally or unintentionally abuse by other people. Such trauma can result due to family, friends, partners, or even strangers. The causes of interpersonal trauma could include child abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, neglect, or witnessing violence), rape/sexual assault, bullying, intimate partner violence, breakups, divorce, stalking or harassment, elder abuse, torture, etc.
What Are the Common Symptoms of Interpersonal Trauma?
Interpersonal trauma primarily affects a person’s belief about other people and themselves. It damages an individual’s sense of security and leaves them with upsetting and uncontrollable emotions and feelings of helplessness. The individual suffering from interpersonal trauma may start to have a distorted view of relationships. They begin to believe that others cannot be trusted; people are generally not good and don’t have good intentions. They may start having similar beliefs about their own personality where they don’t trust themselves and think what they did was morally wrong, even if it was not their fault.
A person undergoing interpersonal trauma may show the following symptoms:
- Learning difficulties, memory problems, social challenges, inability to express oneself adequately and withdrawing from others, etc.
- Intense anger, sadness, anxiety and overwhelming emotions, guilt, shame, and self-blame, etc.
- Being tired all the time, nausea, hyperarousal, nightmares, racing heartbeat, being startled easily, etc.
- Difficulties in relationships, sleep and appetite problems, risky behaviors, etc.
- Being hopeless, a pessimistic view of life, and a loss of faith, etc.
How Can Holistic Brain-Based Trauma Therapy Help?
One of the best interventions for treating interpersonal trauma is holistic brain-based trauma therapy. In a holistic approach, instead of only focusing on the mental aspect, you focus on the person as a whole, including their mind and body.
It involves looking at the big picture instead of just focusing on a few aspects for effective recovery. This means, other than mental, a holistic approach can include focusing on the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual wellbeing. This means the change you make in one aspect of your life affects other aspects too. The top-down and bottom-up approaches can help properly regulate your emotions by focusing on both the internal and external aspects. The top-down approach suggests that by changing the way you look at things, the things you look at change. It offers strategies in which you can improve the way you experience and look at the world, the people around you, and yourself by working on your distorted thinking, beliefs, and perspectives. A bottom-up approach focuses on using your body to change the brain and rewire your nervous system. This could involve learning relaxation techniques and the clinical application of drumming (NRTT), in which you calm down your body and get positive feedback, which as a result calms down your mind and produces feelings of wellbeing.
If you experience the symptoms of PTSD due to interpersonal trauma in yourself, getting proper therapy can help resolve difficulties and prove to be a life-changing decision.
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