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Recognizing Trauma


What does a trauma response look like?

When working with trauma, you are actually working with neurobiology because the impact of trauma is held in your body and nervous system.


After a traumatic event has passed your body can become hypersensitive and begin to misinterpret environmental triggers—launching into a trauma response even when there is no threat. ​ Staying in this state of heightened preparedness takes its toll on your nervous system over time, and you may start to develop symptoms and coping mechanisms that isolate and hold you back.


Signs that unresolved trauma is present in the body present differently overtime.

Trauma Response List

Signs & Symptoms


  • Hypervigilance (“on guard”)

  • Intrusive imagery or flashbacks

  • Extreme sensitivity to light & sound

  • Hyperactivity

  • Exaggerated emotional & startle responses

  • Nightmares & night terrors

  • Abrupt mood swings (rage reactions or temper tantrums, frequent anger, or crying)

  • Shame & lack of self worth

  • Reduced ability to deal with stress (easily & frequently stressed out)

  • Difficulty sleeping


  • Panic attacks, anxiety & phobias

  • Mental blankness or ‘spaced out’

  • Avoidance behavior (avoiding places, activities, movements, memories or people)

  • Attraction to dangerous situations

  • Addictive behaviors (overeating, drinking, smoking etc.)

  • Exaggerated or diminished sexual activity

  • Amnesia and forgetfulness

  • Inability to love, nurture or bond with other individuals

  • Fear of dying or having a shortened life

  • Self mutilation (e.g. self-inflicted cutting, burning)

  • Loss of sustaining beliefs (spiritual, religious, interpersonal)


  • Excessive shyness

  • Diminished emotional responses

  • Inability to make commitments

  • Chronic fatigue or very low physical energy

  • Immune system problems

  • e.g. thyroid malfunction, environmental sensitivities

  • ‘Psychosomatic’ illnesses e.g. headaches, migraines, neck & back problems

  • Chronic pain

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Asthma

  • Skin disorders

  • Digestive problems e.g. spastic colon

  • Severe premenstrual syndrome

  • Depression & feelings of impending doom

  • Feelings of detachment, alienation, & isolation (‘living dead’)

  • Reduced ability to formulate plans

Credit to Healing Trauma 2005, Peter Levine

Releasing Trauma From The Body

“After a traumatic experience, the human system of self-preservation seems to go onto permanent alert, as if the danger might return at any moment.”

- Judith Lewis Herman

Your brain may not remember traumatic events, but your body certainly will. Which is why the Somatic approach to working with Trauma can be so effective—even when other forms of talk therapy haven't provided relief. 


Let's work together

Please contact Michelle to book an appointment.

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