The definition of trauma is experiences that overwhlem our capacity to cope. Trauma effects all areas of the brain. The major impact is on three brain networks called the Default Mode Network, the Salience Network and the Executive Network.
The Default Mode Network is the major rest state network of the brain, when we are in a resting state, the default mode network is most active. The default mode network is composed of three brain regions called the posterior singulate cortex in the back of the brain and is responsible for helping us with self relevance. Often a traumatised person will have difficulty figuring out what is self relevent. For example, if someone was raped in the forest and then goes back to a forest years later, they may think they're going to be raped again because they think the forest is self-relevant even though it isn't at all. Another region of the default mode network is the dorsal medial prefrontal cortex which is located in the front of the brain in the middle. This area of the brain helps us to know what we feel and helps us to know our internal emotional life. Traumatised people find it very difficult to know internal emotional states. The third area of the brain that is part of the default mode network is the parietal cortex which allows us to have an embodied sense of self in space. Very often with Traumatised people , it can be difficult to know where the body starts and ends because of the disconnect from the body and how it relates to the environment. All of these areas are most active when we are at rest , when we are thinking or planning these areas are quiet. when someone experiences trauma very early in life, these three areas get so disrupted and do not connect at all and this disconncetion can have major implications. This disruption in the default mode network may be very important in the disruption of the sense of self often seen as a result of trauma. The whole funcion of this network is engaging in self-reflective functions – so, figuring out what's self-relevant and knowing our internal emotional life. It really reflects the fact that traumatised people are not able to do this very often. If you don't know what you're experiencing emotionally, if you're disconnected from your body, if you don't know where your body begins or ends, if you can't recall memories appropriately, if you can't look into the future, your sense of self is going to be very much affected. We know that trauma very much affects the sense of self.
The Salience Network is a really important network in the brain that helps us figure out what's most important – both in the environment and internally which helps us to guide our behavior. The Salience Network has been implicated in detection and integration of emotional and sensory stimuli, as well as in modulating the switch between the internally directed cognition of the default mode network and the externally directed cognition of the central executive network. For example – if I decide what's most important right now is that there's a guy standing there that's about to break into my house, all my behaviors will be guided towards getting myself into safety. The salience network is really important and includes the substantia nigra, ventral tegmental area, ventral striatum, amygdala, dorsomedial thalamus, and hypothalamus. . It also includes the anterior singular cortex that modulates heart rate responses and also figures out whether there are errors that we have to sort out. The insula is also part of the salience network and that part of the brain really helps us to be aware of what we feel inside. When a person experiences trauma, the salience network goes offline. And that can happen in two different ways, hyperarousal and hypoarousal. When we're really hyper-aroused and really hyper vigilant, the salience network can actually be overactive which also increase dorsal vagal tone which can lead to syndromes of autoimmunity such as Ibs and other issues with the viscera such as lungs and heart , but the salience can also be underactive which also means shutting down the dorsal vagal which leads to immobilisation, the fear response and difficulty sleeping . When we disconnect and when we numb out, the salience network is underactive. So our task is often to balance this network and and the client’s optimum window of tolerance- where our client isn’t too revved up or too dulled down.
The Central Executive Network is in the upper part of the brain and it contains the front part of the brain and the parietal cortex part of the brain. It's an area of the brain that's absolutely critical in helping us think and plan. It's really important in short term memories – remembering phone numbers or names. It's also really important in helping us sustain attention, and really focus on something. People who have experinced trama often find it diffiiclt to sustain attenion and can have huge difficulty with short-term memory and planning. The more a person dissociates or zones out and is not present, the less able to function that central executive network seems to be.
Treatment of Relational and complex Trauma at Trauma Recovery Institute
Trauma Recovery Institute offers unparalleled services and treatment approach through unique individual and group psychotherapy. We specialise in long-term relational trauma recovery, sexual trauma recovery and early childhood trauma recovery. We also offer specialized group psychotherapy for psychotherapists and psychotherapy students, People struggling with addictions and substance abuse, sexual abuse survivors and people looking to function in life at a higher level. Trauma recovery Institute offers a very safe supportive space for deep relational work with highly skilled and experienced psychotherapists accredited with Irish Group Psychotherapy Society (IGPS), which holds the highest accreditation standard in Europe. Trauma Recovery Institute uses a highly structured psychotherapeutic approach called Dynamic Psychosocialsomatic Psychotherapy (DPP).
At Trauma Recovery Institute we address three of the core Attachment Styles, their origin’s the way they reveal themselves in relationships, and methods for transforming attachment hurt into healing. We use the latest discoveries in Neuroscience which enhances our capacity for deepening intimacy. The foundation for establishing healthy relationships relies on developing secure attachment skills, thus increasing your sensitivity for contingency and relational attunement. According to Allan Schore, the regulatory function of the brain is experience-dependent and he says that, as an infant, our Mother is our whole environment. In our relational trauma recovery approach you will learn to understand how the early patterns of implicit memory – which is pre-verbal, sub-psychological, and non-conceptual – build pathways in our brain that affect our attachment styles. Clinically, we can shift such ingrained associative patterns in our established neural network by bringing in new and different “lived” experiences in the Here and Now.
The Role of the Therapist in transforming attachment trauma:
Healing into wholeness takes the active participation of at least one other brain, mind, and body to repair past injuries – and that can be accomplished through a one-to-one therapeutic relationship, a therapeutic group relationship or one that is intimate and loving. In exploring the “age and stage” development of the right hemisphere and prefrontal cortex in childhood, we discover how the presence of a loving caregiver can stimulate certain hormones, which will help support our growing capacity for social engagement and pleasure in all of our relationships. Brain integration leads to connection and love throughout our entire life span. At trauma recovery institute we bring a deep focus to the role of Neuroscience in restoring the brain’s natural attunement to Secure Attachment. Our brain is a social brain – it is primed for connection, not isolation, and its innate quality of plasticity gives it the ability to re-establish, reveal and expand one’s intrinsic healthy attachment system.
Dynamic Psychosocialsomatic Psychotherapy (DPP) at Trauma Recovery Institute Dublin
Dynamic Psychosocialsomatic Psychotherapy (DPP) is a highly structured, once to twice weekly-modified psychodynamic treatment based on the psychoanalytic model of object relations. This approach is also informed by the latest in neuroscience, interpersonal neurobiology and attachment theory. As with traditional psychodynamic psychotherapy relationship takes a central role within the treatment and the exploration of internal relational dyads. Our approach differs in that also central to the treatment is the focus on the transference and countertransference, an awareness of shifting bodily states in the present moment and a focus on the client’s external relationships, emotional life and lifestyle.
Dynamic Psychosocialsomatic Psychotherapy (DPP) is an integrative treatment approach for working with complex trauma, borderline personality organization and dissociation. This treatment approach attempts to address the root causes of trauma-based presentations and fragmentation, seeking to help the client heal early experiences of abandonment, neglect, trauma, and attachment loss, that otherwise tend to play out repetitively and cyclically throughout the lifespan in relationship struggles, illness and addictions.