‘The single most important issue for traumatized people is to find a sense of safety in their own bodies.’

Bessel van der Kolk Psychiatrist and PTSD researcher, Boston


Trauma is the experience of being overwhelmed and helpless when we feel our survival is under threat. This can be due to a single event, or an ongoing experience of living or working in an unsafe or very stressful environment.

Trauma can also occur through hearing of, or witnessing, another person’s experience.

We have a natural ability to overcome daily adversity and return to ‘normal’ after distressing events.

But when the experience is too overwhelming, the nervous system stays on high alert in an attempt to prevent the trauma happening again. This creates ongoing discomfort long after the event. This is known as post-traumatic stress.

Possible symptoms of trauma:

  • Flashbacks or nightmares about the event
  • Avoiding things that may make you feel anxious
  • Low self-esteem and a negative outlook on life
  • Severe emotional instability – panic attacks, depression, rage
  • Mental problems – dissociation or mental disorders
  • Self-harming behaviors – substance abuse, addictions, disordered eating, self-mutilation, suicide
  • Compromised health – sleep disorders, chronic illnesses, disability, pain, auto-immune syndromes, fibromyalgia
  • Violence – rage, aggression, abuse
  • Work related issues – financial, increased absenteeism, poor performance
  • Relationship difficulties – intimacy problems, isolation, inability to connect
  • Numbing these symptoms with substances


The goal of trauma-focused therapy and TRE® is not to remember all the disturbing things, but to gain perspective and authority over the related memories and feelings to stop them impacting the present in a negative way.

‘The truth about our past is stored up in our body, and although we can repress it, we can never alter it. Our intellect can be deceived, our feelings manipulated, and conceptions confused, and our body tricked with medication. But someday our body will present its bill, for it is as incorruptible as a child, who, still whole in spirit, will accept no compromises or excuses, and it will not stop tormenting us until we stop evading the truth.’

Alice Miller

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