What is Trauma?

There are many types of trauma. Some people have experienced a single event, such as a car accident, a natural disaster, or an attack. Others have experienced a series of “smaller” events throughout their youth. Still others have experienced a combination of quite serious events that are both emotionally and physically brutal. We have therapists who are able to help clients with all of these types of experiences through work with EMDR, Internal Family Systems (IFS) and Somatic Experiencing (SE).


The brain registers something as traumatic when someone is both overwhelmed and emotionally or physically alone.  Then the hippocampus and amygdala functions change in the brain and memory is encoded differently than an event that is in a more normal range of experiences.  



Can this kind of work help me? 

Trauma can splinter the mind or disrupt the body, but it can also be so much more subtle. It can create parts of us, parts of which we are unaware that hold beliefs and learnings gathered in a single event or a series of events in time. Internal Family Systems is an experiential therapy that allows a person to enter their system with compassion, make connection with parts of themselves frozen in time and help to disconfirm their learning.


EMDR might be the right therapy for you if you are concerned about sharing what happened, worried that therapy will take too long or think that therapy might not work. EMDR is an experiential therapy that utilizes bilateral stimulation to help parts of the brain that are dis-integrated in trauma to integrate again.  


SE is a great therapy for people who are concerned about overwhelm, have difficulty with regulation and/or have many of their symptoms show up physically.  It allows the lowest part of your brain to move forward to present time and to complete thwarted defensive responses so that the physical symptoms or trauma can resolve.


There are also many things that can cause trauma symptoms, I have a list here, some would be expected and others many people
find surprising. 

 • car accidents 

 • natural disasters 

 • falls 

 • combat 

 • witnessing an incident when people were hurt or killed 

 • animal attacks 

 • surgery 

 • difficult births 

 • childhood abuse 

 • rape 

 • being separated from a parent or parents at a young age 

 • spousal or intimate partner abuse 

 • dental procedures 

 • swimming accidents 

 • incidents in which your body felt trapped 


Books about trauma and trauma recovery
that are helpful

I Don't Want to Talk About It by Terrence Real

Trauma and Memory by Peter Levine

The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van der Kolk 

In an Unspoken Voice by Peter Levine 

Trauma Proofing your Kids by Peter Levine and Maggie Kline 

Mindsight by Dan Siegel 

Neurobiology of We by Dan Siegel 

Overcoming Your Trauma Through Yoga by David Emerson 

10 Mindful Minutes by Goldie Hawn 

Internal Family Systems Therapy: New Dimensions
  by Martha Sweezy and Erica Ziskind 




Our work with trauma recovery 

We have therapists who are trained in variety of specialized trauma treatments all of which can target different types of integration difficulties. Here are some of the methods that we use in addition to a supportive and safe therapeutic relationship.



Internal Family Systems (IFS) has evolved over the past twenty years into a comprehensive approach that includes guidelines for working with individuals, couples, and families. The IFS Model represents a new synthesis of two already-existing paradigms: systems thinking and the multiplicity of the mind. In systems thinking we strive to create a collaboration between those who have different, often conflicting agendas. In multiplicity of mind theory we understand the brain as a parallel processor which can activate multiple neural networks at the same time. Often such networks are in 

conflict with each other and this can create a great internal emotional stress as we become angry, judgmental and blaming of ourselves. 


We work to create a dialogue of self compassion and curiosity that leads to a deeper understanding of our complex internal world. As we gain a deeper understanding of this world, old behaviors are often replaced by newer healthier ones and internal emotional suffering in alleviated as we let go of 

burdens held from past experiences and learn to trust our internal core. The Therapists who practice IFS: 

Deena (Level 2 training complete)

Jules (Level 2 training complete)

Jami Lynn (Level 1 training complete)



SE is a natural method of trauma treatment that is effective, short term, and body-awareness oriented. It is the result of over forty years of observation, research, and hands on development by Dr. Peter Levine. Human beings have an innate ability to overcome the effects of trauma through restoring self regulation of the autonomic nervous system. The body bears the burden of trauma as much as the brain does. The body communicates to the brain and the brain communicates back to the body, these systems are not 

actually separate. By working with both in a systemic fashion, trauma can be healed more completely. It is also a very gentle approach, many who think that they should seek trauma treatment are hesitant because trauma recovery sounds frightening or too painful. Somatic Experiencing is perfect 

for those who have these kind of worries because it works with the body to relieve trauma symptoms naturally. 

The Therapists here who practice SE: 

Jules (SEP)

Kim (Intermediate Level)
Ran (Intermediate Level)



W also use EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) in our work with those recovering from trauma. We find that often it is very effective on it’s own as well as when it is incorporated with other treatment modalities. We also work with those who are specifically seeking this method 

of treatment. 


No one knows exactly how any form of psychotherapy works 

neurobiologically or in the brain and the same is true for EMDR. However, we do know that when a person is very upset, their brain cannot process information in the same way that it does under usual circumstances. Moments can become “frozen in time” and remembering a trauma may feel 

as bad as going through it the first time did. Such memories have a lasting effect that interfere with the way a person sees the world and the way they relate to other people. 


EMDR seems to have a direct effect on the way that the brain processes information. It helps normal information processing to resume so following successful EMDR treatment a person no longer relives the images, sounds and feelings that were present when the event is brought to mind. So people still remember what has happened, but it is less upsetting when they do. It also targets the negative belief systems that sometimes get stuck during trauma. It frees those belief systems that seemed stuck and so people find more freedom to shift their perspective and look at things differently and in a way that is more helpful to them. 

The therapists who practice EMDR: 







 IPNB Psychotherapy of Austin |  4009 Banister Lane, Two Park Place, Suite 330  Austin, TX 78704  |  512-653-0564 | email