In the system that I use a trauma is defined very broadly as any experience that overwhelms a person’s normal coping mechanisms. This means that the such experiences are not entirely dealt with and processed as they happen, leaving us with lingering after-effects 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 of the event because it feels so awful to do so. This is rarely entirely successful though, and the experience can intrude into our consciousness in unwanted ways such as intrusive thoughts, nightmares or flashbacks, or affect our responses to others as the unprocessed emotions from past experiences super-impose themselves on our current situations. The constant drain of trying to avoid the negative feelings can also cause exhaustion, irritability or emotional numbness.
I use a powerful, short technique called Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR) that has been designed to provide people with a safe environment in which 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 system can be used effectively for dealing with a variety of issues not considered “typical” trauma, such as in some instances of bereavement, dealing with the loss of a job or dissolution of an intimate relationship or any situation that leaves the client feeling overwhelmed and struggling to keep the experience from intruding into everyday life.
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.