The Structure of Trauma
Contemporary psychotherapy and counselling tends to explore a lot of content when it comes to trauma. Content is the stuff of what happened.
‘What happened’ then moves to ‘how I feel about what happened’ and sometimes can even get to ‘how I feel about the way that I feel about what happened.’
I question the advantage of such an approach and wonder if this in turn encourages further development of ‘The Two Patterns.’
Process orientated change work is familiar to students of NLP and its derivatives.
If we consider the structure of a traumatic memory rather than it’s content, then the issue of, “what happened” and “how I feel about what happened” become redundant.
As an example, a traumatic memory might have the following features:
– it is vivid.
– there is association. This means that it is experienced as though the person is associated inside the experience, rather than looking at it from a distance (dissociated).
– the memory is often a movie, with distinct start and stop points.
– the memory occurs in real time. For example, I can recall a year of school in a moment, but to relive a car crash might take the same length of time as the accident actually took.
– the memory is encoded in present “now” time, rather than as an item from history.
The events of what happened will always be the events of what happened and cannot be changed. But when we start to change the way the memory is encoded, we can begin to create a new order of change.
Instead of changing the way we respond to the memory of the trauma, we change the way we experience the trauma in the first place.