Trauma can be defined broadly as any experience that overwhelms a person’s normal coping mechanisms. When we are overwhelmed, we cannot fully accept and process what is happening, as it happens, and we can be left with lingering after-effects of a negative experience that interfere with our quality of life. The most common result is that it is difficult to speak of, or even think about, the event without experiencing intense emotion. Understandably, we then try to avoid thinking or speaking about what happened. This is rarely entirely successful , and the experience can intrude into our consciousness in unwanted ways such as intrusive thoughts, nightmares or flashbacks. Even when we do manage to never revisit a painful memory, it can affect our responses to others as the unprocessed emotions from past experiences super-impose themselves on our current situation. The constant drain of trying to ignore the memory can also cause exhaustion, irritability or emotional numbness.
I use a powerful, short technique called Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR) that provides people with an opportunity to properly process any lingering emotional and cognitive load related to an overwhelming experience. The result is that the experience is integrated into the person’s past life story, so that it no longer triggers an intense emotional response. The person can think about and talk about what happened calmly, and without experiencing the same intense feelings they did before.
The system is effective for dealing with a variety of issues not considered ‘typical’ trauma, such as in some instances of bereavement, the loss of a job or relationship or any negative experience that causes difficulties in its aftermath.
It is my belief that most people recover from the effects of such experiences in due time. However this can entail a long personal process during which time the quality of life, of personal relationships and even work performance, are negatively affected. TIR is very effective at shortening the process so that healing and wholeness can be attained far sooner. TIR was developed by two American psychologists in their extensive work with Vietnam veterans, and it has been recognised by the Federal government in the US as a proven effective technique to prevent and address the effects of PTSD.