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What is Trauma?

Trauma is a word we are hearing more and more these days and rightfully so. The effects of trauma are pervasive in our culture today and are the root cause of most of our distress psychologically, emotionally and physically. But what does the term trauma really mean?




Why is trauma work so important?


Since our mission at Zenhorse is focused on supporting the healing of trauma in humans and horses, I felt it might help to take a look why this work is so important. There are many amazing professionals helping us understand trauma and its effects. Gabor Mate, renowned physician and author of the Myth of Normal – Trauma, Illness & Healing in a Toxic Culture, explains it quite well.

"Trauma is a psychic wound that hardens you psychologically that then interferes with your ability to grow and develop. It pains you and now you're acting out of pain. It induces fear and now you're acting out of fear. Trauma is not what happens to you, it's what happens inside you as a result of what happened to you. Trauma is the invisible force that shapes our lives. It shapes the way we live, the way we love and the way we make sense of the world.”

Many of us think of trauma as bad things happening to people; REALLY bad things like war, murder, violence, sexual exploitation… But trauma happens to everybody. Individually and collectively, we carry a backlog of pain that has never been heard because our cultural narrative leads us to believe if none of these “really bad” things happened in our childhood then there must not be any wounding or baggage. And yet I have so many clients in distress and feeling like they don’t have a right to be because they’ve never experienced anything traumatic. So if we can understand that trauma is a wounding, and woundings occur even in very well-intentioned situations that are “normal” in our culture, we can begin to see why each of us has trauma of some sort informing our present.

These traumas or woundings, affect your emotions.“Your emotions affect changes in your autonomic nervous system, your cardiovascular system, your gut, your immune system, in your blood vessels, in your muscles. In other words, everywhere. When our psyches are under chronic stress, that puts our physiological system under stress as well. So a lot of people who repress their healthy anger end up with autoimmune diseases which, by the way, might explain the fact that 80% of people with an autoimmune disease are women.”

Can trauma be healed?

The good news is these traumas can be healed. “There are multiple ways in, but it begins with the recognition that the healing process is necessary and possible. What all good healing processes have in common is reconnecting you with yourself, both on the emotional and the physiological levels. Whether you look at Somatic Experiencing, expressive dance, EMDR, Brainspotting, Internal Family Systems, or my particular work, Compassionate Inquiry, it’s all about reconnecting people with their authentic feelings and emotions.”


At Zenhorse, we primarily utilize Somatic Experiencing, Internal Family Systems, Continuum Movement, Qigong, Tai Chi, and other forms of body movement as we partner with our equine therapists.

If you have trauma you would support in healing and would like to schedule a consultation call, please CLICK HERE.

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