Trauma, a Fact of Life

Trauma is a fact of life. Veterans and their families deal with the painful aftermath of combat; molestation occurs with one in five Americans; one in four grew up with alcoholics; one in three couples have engaged in physical violence” (Bessel van der Kolk, 2015, p. 215).

Our Tactical Resiliency Process (TRP) and Emotions Management Process (EMP) will clear the negative emotions that ruminate in the amygdala. The emotions make their way down the tenth cranial nerve. The vagus nerve runs through the neck, esophagus, heart, stomach, liver, kidneys, and intestines, and is why the somatic symptoms (physical reactions) occur. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-5) is what counselors use to diagnose individuals with somatic disorders. Somatic disorders affect daily life and cannot be explained by a medical illness (American Psychiatric Association, 2013.).

Physical Pain Associated with Trauma

For example, someone who endured a traumatic event has severe stomach pain for more than six months would be diagnosed with a severe somatic disorder. Some make an appointment after appointment complaining about acid reflux, chest pain, a lump in the throat, digestion problems that their physician cannot explain. No physician thinks to asks, “what happened before these symptoms?”. Untrained Physicians are never asking these questions. When they can attach the traumatic event to the symptoms, they will refer you to a counselor.

After we run the process, I find the somatic symptoms have subsided with less than three sessions. I have worked with several individuals who would qualify for the somatic disorder. However, after three sessions, they no longer suffer from somatic symptoms. The chest pains, acid reflux issues, and the stress in their neck if those symptoms are directly correlated with the traumatic event, can be shut down quickly.

People living with Trauma feel unsafe inside their bodies, visceral warning signs constantly bombard their bodies. People shove things down, put them away, control their physical distress, and ignore the body’s alarms (Van Der Kolk, 2015).

When you have pain, pay attention, learn from that pain, and track the antecedent event, because some would be surprised that there might/could be a traumatic event hidden in there. If you do realize there is one, reach out, connect to us.

Article produced by Janell Royster, PhD



American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental health disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: Edwards Brothers Malloy.

Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. (2015). The body keeps the score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. New York, NY: Penguin Books.