Fortunately, HSPs have a number of resources we can turn to for relief from subtle trauma. Here are six of them.
Many sensitive people experience subtle trauma. If you’ve recognized it in yourself, what is the next step? This is territory that can be very intimidating, like standing on the edge of a cliff peering down into the foggy unknown.
To help you sense your “right next step,” I’ve made a 12-minute video in which I share my personal experiences with six trauma-treatment modalities. With the exception of Focusing, I don’t have a professional affiliation with any of these: I’m sharing them with you as a fellow consumer.
I recommend you watch the video first, then use the links below to research any of these six options that resonate with you:
1. EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) was developed by Gary Craig. It uses tapping on acupuncture points of the body to release intense emotions and energy in the moment. You can do it by yourself.
2. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) was developed by Francine Shapiro and is now a mainstream treatment for trauma, practiced by many therapists. The two sides of the brain are stimulated alternately to help release trauma from the body.
3. Somatic Experiencing (SE), was developed by Dr. Peter Levine. It is described as “a body-oriented approach to the healing of trauma and other stress disorders” that “releases traumatic shock, which is key to transforming PTSD and and the wounds of emotional and early developmental attachment trauma.”
4. Associative Awareness Techniques (AAT) “teaches your brain to be less physically reactive to stress.” The work is done 1:1. The technique I’ve experienced is called Reflex Relaxation and is part of AAT Level 1. If there is no practitioner in your area, the website has DVD’s you can purchase if you have a partner or friend willing to learn the technique in order to practice it on you. (I haven’t seen the video so I can’t vouch for it personally.)
5. Emotionally Focused Therapy (the “other EFT”) is the model of couples therapy developed by Dr. Sue Johnson and widely publicized in her book, Hold Me Tight. Based on the study of adult attachment, EFT is backed up by substantial research which has shown that “70 to 75% of couples move from distress to recovery and 90% show significant improvements,” including couples suffering from PTSD, depression, and chronic illness. These figures outstrip any other couples therapy modality by a wide margin. Having personally experienced other less effective methods, I have a great appreciation for the difference.
6. Focusing can be a very effective intervention for subtle trauma if you are able to retain enough presence to stay with the traumatized part of you. Click here to read a striking story about how I used focusing to stay present with and successfully work through the strong panic reaction triggered by an MRI machine.
Note: As of 2020, I’ve added a seventh modality for trauma relief: coherent breathing. In fact, I would put this at the top of my recommended list, because it is virtually free to learn, and powerfully effective, and safe. A regular practice of coherent breathing helps re-balance your nervous system over time, giving you relief from the symptoms of chronic hypervigilance. For a detailed description of the benefits of coherent breathing and instructions how to do it, click here.
*Thanks to Kaitlyn (email@example.com) for another great photo.
Thank you, Emily! This was very helpful for me. I appreciate that you share some of your own stories to illustrate how each modality was helpful for you. I can identify with much of this, knowing of my own traumas (well at least some of them, especially around anger from a parent), and knowing how much and in several ways I am highly sensitive.
There are several approaches I was unaware of, so I’m very glad you included links. I will follow up on the information you’ve shared.
Dear Patricia, you are very welcome. Let me know what you find out. I agree that it really helps to hear others’ experiences to have a sense of what might be helpful to you. I have been very lucky that through the various trainings I’ve done and the friendships and collegial connections I’ve made, I regularly connect with people who are “out there” trying things, getting trained in new modalities, etc so I can trade sessions, ask questions etc to learn about these things.
Thank you Emily! I’ve used tapping, read the book Hold Me Tight, and realized my husband is utterly unable/unwilling to do the emotional work with me. I assume it’s an early attachment trauma for him that he’s determined to never allow awareness of again, so I’m left with feeling alone to heal my own traumas and feeling alone in my marriage. I’ve done some focusing and inner bonding processes off and on for several years but have a hard time sustaining the effort. I do feel comforted and understood by your presentations and appreciate your work in creating and presenting these videos. I hope you will be able to continue doing them!
Betty, it is good that you are doing all this work in yourself. Sometimes it takes a period of doing things like IB and Focusing inconsistently before the intent strengthens to offer yourself that kind of care as a regular non-negotiable gift:) As far as the relationship goes, in my experience working with the EFT couples work, it is necessary to find a good therapist trained in EFT to help the two of you hold the space and to guide you in the process (it sounds like your husband may not be willing to do that?). When we did the EFT work, I had read the book, but since the nature of the work is that you are working in areas where your thinking mind tends to “go offline”, it’s pretty tough to apply cognitive knowledge on your own when things “heat up” with your partner.
Thanks for your kind words about the video. It is wonderful to get feedback–it’s the only way I have of knowing whether what I’m writing/saying is of value to others.