Birth Trauma Resolution Therapy is a safe and effective method of neutralising the strong emotions that are attached to birth trauma memories.
When people experience a traumatic event, the part of the brain called the amygdala takes the trauma and assesses the situation as danger. It then works to keep you safe by triggering the ‘fight or flight’ response, which gives you the feelings of anxiety and panic; increased heart rate, sweaty palms, dizziness, nausea etc. In 80% of people, within about four weeks, another part of the brain called the hippocampus works with the trauma memory in the amygdala, giving it a story, and allows it to be converted into a ‘normal’ memory. From there, the normal memory is stored in the filing cabinet part of the brain – the neocortex. It is a past event that can be recalled without the strong emotional tag.
However, for the remaining 20% of people, the trauma memory gets stuck in the amygdala. It doesn’t get the full story attached to it and remains a source of traumatic stress. When the trauma memory is triggered, instead of remembering it as a past event, the amygdala goes into protection mode and stimulates the ‘fight or flight’ response again, even if the situation doesn’t require it. With birth trauma, the trigger could be a smell, a sound, seeing another pregnant women, seeing a baby (including your own), being asked to talk about your experience – in fact, anything that makes you feel as though something bad might happen. This can lead to a number of behaviours, including avoiding situations that are perceived as dangerous, excessive cleaning, crying, fear, distancing from loved-ones, and much more.
Birth Trauma Resolution Therapy works to build a bridge between the trapped trauma memories in the amygdala and the ‘story creating’ hippocampus. It takes away the excessive emotional attachment and allows it to be converted into a normal memory, to then be stored in the neocortex. Once it is stored in the neocortex, it can then be accessed without it leading to a stress response.
What can I expect during therapy sessions?
Birth Trauma Resolution Therapy works for the majority of women in 1 – 3 sessions. Following a thorough consultation, the therapist will guide you into a deeply relaxed state to reduce the emotional arousal. This is essential in order to change the memory attachment pattern. The client is then asked to think of a safe and relaxing place in their imagination. From there, ‘Rewind’ techniques are used to revisit the event from a dissociated state, whereby it is not being relived but viewed from a distance. Through repetition, the event reduces its emotional impact until the client is able to step into it without triggering an emotional response. Depending on the client’s individual situation, further techniques may be used in preparation for a subsequent birth, to reframe the future, and leave the client feeling calm and in control. Sometimes, the sessions uncover other experiences that have been triggered by the birth experience, such as sexual abuse or domestic violence. This can all be incorporated into a personalised therapy plan.
Why is BTRT effective?
This technique can be used as a form of ‘non-disclosure’ therapy, where the client does not have to openly reveal the details of the traumatic event if they choose not to. This is valuable where the client is worried about reliving the strong emotions.
By using guided relaxation, the therapist is able to manage the client’s emotional arousal, keeping it low as they use the ‘Rewind’ therapy.
This reduced arousal and state of relaxation allows the therapist to work with the part of the brain responsible for programming these memories, bypassing the conscious, questioning, analytical brain, and working directly with the subconscious.
Other treatments for PTSD, such as EMDR and CBT can work, but tend to take much longer – up to 12 sessions. BTRT works quickly and effectively – usually between 1 and 3 sessions – with women reporting that they feel a significant improvement after the first session.
What should I check before booking?
Make sure that you are comfortable with your therapist. Anybody offering birth trauma resolution therapy should be trained and insured. Andrea‘s training is accredited by both the Royal College of Midwives and the Human Givens Institute (psychotherapy). She is registered with the General Hypnotherapy Council and insured through Balens. Some clinical hypnotherapists will offer to treat birth trauma, but may not have a specialist qualification. Any good therapist will be happy to show you their credentials.
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