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The Trauma Experience: How Can Trauma Therapy Reduce our Distress

Updated: Jan 20, 2023

DR. ESSLIN TERRIGHENA explains how Trauma Therapy can reduce our emotional distress after a traumatic experience.

Trauma therapy tackles trauma and its effects on our mental health on four levels: emotions, cognitions, body, and behaviours.

Traumatic experiences trigger a range of primary and secondary emotions. Primary emotions are a direct response to the threats to our safety, for example fear or panic. Secondary emotions are indirect responses to the incident, often occurring some time afterward, and can include confusion, shame, guilt, suspicion, and anger. For example, if we experience a violent mugging, we may be fearful and full of adrenaline, driving us to make an escape and run away as fast as we can. Afterward, we may feel guilty for running away and leaving others behind in danger without helping them.

Trauma therapy helps us to make sense of our feelings and sit with them in a safe space without feeling overwhelmed or alone. It can uncover and release emotions that are impacting our behaviours at a subconscious level. It can also guide us to express our emotions and accept the information they hold for us. This can enhance acceptance and take away the power our distress can hold over us. Sitting with our feelings can also increase our tolerance of them. It allows them to rise and be let go, rather than getting stuck within us.

Trauma-related emotions can feel isolating – maybe we are too embarrassed to share them with others or we feel they cannot truly understand what we are going through. Trauma therapy aims to normalize trauma feelings and to understand them in the general context of the human trauma response. This can reduce isolation and enhance a sense of connection and self-compassion.

Together, these steps can reduce the intensity of the emotions triggered by our traumatic experience and reduce trauma-related symptoms.

Read more about how trauma therapy can help improve your thoughts, physical symptoms, and unhelpful behaviours. To find out more about how trauma therapy can help you recover from past trauma, book a consultation with psychologist Dr. Esslin Terrighena, please contact (852) 2521 4668 or

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