This morning, I discovered this very moving piece on the BBC website called ‘Calming Touch’. In it, ten people share an object that helps with their mental health and they share their stories about their objects. This is a wonderful example of what therapists call ‘resourcing’.
Helping someone to find a resource is a really important aspect of working with trauma. This is because it helps the person to learn to regulate and soothe their nervous system.
Trauma is a charged energy held in the body and can become very fast and/or frozen. Processing trauma happens when the energy begins to be released from the body and this is why the body shaking is helpful to the system.
However processing trauma can be a volatile process and an essential part of the process is to help someone begin to understand their nervous system and learn to calm their body sensations. Babette Rothschild calls this ‘putting on the brakes’ and Peter Levine calls it ‘titration’. This practice is vital for someone with trauma because they can begin to empower themselves to find a way to control their body sensations. This is a very powerful skill because trauma symptoms often feel out of control.
Resources can be anything that helps your body to feel calm, relaxed or bring some sensations of rest e.g.
- a memory of a time when you felt really relaxed
- thinking of a person or animal you feel calm around
- an object that reminds you of that person or place
I often draw on my experience as a qualified aromatherapist and invite a person to smell a pleasant aroma and work through a process I call Aroma-focusing.
So what one thing will help your body feel calmer today?