How to Heal from Emotional Trauma

The choice in healing is yours

Over a year ago a good friend asked me to speak about emotional traumas from a Classical Chinese Medicine perspective. Since then, I’ve been thinking about how to approach this delicate topic. It is one that has many facets.

In this post, I provide an introduction to what emotional trauma is, causes, signs, the Classical Chinese Medicine perspective on emotional traumas and how to begin healing or continue healing from emotional traumas.

As always, if you like this content, please share, leave a comment below, or send me an email. You are the reason I provide this information. Your feedback and questions are always appreciated. 

What is emotional trauma

Harvard Medical School describes an emotional trauma as a stressful event that affects the psyche. Classical Chinese Medicine would agree and add that emotional traumas affect not only the psyche, but the whole human including the physical, and spiritual body’s too. 

What causes of Emotional Trauma

In general, emotional traumas can be caused by people and experiences. 

Causes of emotional traumas can include shock, unhealthy interpersonal relationships, childhood traumas, recent diagnosis, and deaths. Traumas to the physical body also invoke an emotional response. Physical traumas can include injuries, accidents, prescription medications, surgeries and even pregnancy.  

Any experience that is deeply distressing to the physical, emotional or spiritual body has the potential to bring forth an emotional response. That emotional response can then result in trauma to the emotions. 

The physical body alone is rarely ever without the emotional body and visa versa. Therefore, both need to be considered during the healing process. 

Signs of emotional trauma

It is unfortunate, but signs of an emotional trauma are extensive. I’ve listed a few common ones here. If you don’t see a sign that you are experiencing below, please don’t discount it. This is a condensed list. Any emotions causing distress can be a sign of an emotional trauma. 

    • Isolation, confusion, blaming self
    • Inability to speak about event
    • Lack of trust, lack of sense of security
    • Feeling afraid, hopelessness, sadness, grief, PTSD

A personal example of emotional trauma

Late one day, I received a phone call from the nurse at my OB/GYN’s office. She called a day or two after I received my five year routine PAP smear. She told me I had high grade abnormal cells that also concluded I was positive for HPV. She then told me that the next step would be to have a colposcopy and then a LEEP procedure. Both of these options scrape the uterine cell wall in effort to remove abnormal cells. Both procedures can cause extensive damage to the uterine lining, which can result in the inability to conceive. 

After listening to the nurse’s spiel, I told her I needed to think about the next best step for me. I told her I had other options. That would be Chinese medicine.  

The nurse then screamed through the phone, “Are you crazy? You can’t wait. You’re going to get cancer. You don’t want cancer do you? Why aren’t you taking this seriously?”

There it was. The emotional trauma. The tone of her voice. Her urgency. Her entire statement tore through me like a broken piece of glass. I began to shake. 

I hung up the phone without saying another word. I sat on the floor and began to cry.

That nurse took quantitative factual information (my abnormal cell growth and HPV findings) and added in her own opinion and emotional response. I absorbed that. Her tone and words filled me with fear, worry and sadness. 

What I did after that was follow my heart. I consulted with several practitioners of Classical Chinese medicine and friends who helped me heal my abnormal cells and kill the HPV naturally. It was a long journey. It wasn’t easy, but that’s the way my body wanted to heal. 

In all that, I also had to heal from the emotional trauma my body absorbed from her sharp words. She wanted me to believe what she did, but I didn’t and I had to trust that. I had to trust that I knew what was right for me.  

Below I share several modalities that I used to heal the above and other personal traumas. 

classical chinese medicine view on emotional trauma

Classical Chinese medicine knows that the body holds trauma even when the mind can’t recall it. Chinese medicine also knows that the whole human including the physical, emotional and spiritual body’s endure the trauma. As a result, how we decide to heal will affect the whole human, whether we are conscious of it or not.

Classical Chinese medicine has a number of different channel systems that aid us in healing. Those channel systems can be used to release the emotional trauma, aid us in staying present and moving forward, and help us to consolidate lost or scattered physical, energetic, emotional, and spiritual resources. 

One channel system Classical Chinese medicine uses to address emotional trauma is called the Luo channels. This Luo channel system has a direct relationship with the emotions. In Chinese Medicine the emotions live in the blood. 

When we work with the blood, we work with the emotions. More specifically, we work to release the emotions from the body and the mind. Through the use of this channel system, we dismiss the need to analyze and yield to healing. The result is physical, emotional and spiritual space and freedom. 

For the women reading this, think about the emotional response and release you have around and during your menstrual cycle. Therein lies a direct correlation between the emotions and the blood.

These treatments are precious and sacred within Classical Chinese medicine. They are meant to be given and received with compassion. 

Classical Chinese medicine takes into consideration the whole human, physical, mental and spiritual body’s. While healing with Classical Chinese medicine through acupuncture, herbs, essential oils, and health coaching, inform your practitioner of any aspect that you are struggling with. It will help them to determine which channel system to use to support you in your healing.

how to heal from emotional trauma

There are many modalities we can use to heal from traumas. Here I provide an overview. If you would like me to go into further detail about any of these, please contact me or comment below.

  1. Do nothing. When we do nothing, we take space from analyzing, understanding, and processing. Simply being with is enough. To do nothing also honors whether or not we are ready to heal. If we are not ready, then we must honor that.
  2. Embody the willingness to heal. Within our willingness is to see ourselves not as the victim but the strong survivor. That survivor is one who was and currently is strong enough to endure and overcome the turmoil, including the after affects.
  3. Move the body. I encourage gentle movement over quick movement. This is because the body is already stressed. Further stressful movements will drive the body into deeper stress. Gentle movement can be any movement that is freeing to you and can include walking, stretching, Qi Gong, or Tai chi. You can also include movement that others due for us like massage and tai massage.
  4. Seek energy healing  such as reiki, acupuncture, breathing exercises, and meditation.
  5. Talk about your experience. Your desire to talk about your trauma will evolve as you begin to heal from any shock, shame or guilt that may coincide. Talk with friends, professions and yourself (verbally or through writing). In talking about your trauma, we want to release ourselves from the story, but also be willing to address the current emotions.
  6. Work with your mind. Do your best to stay positive or neutral. Find the silver lining. As you do you will begin to create new neural pathways about the experience. This process will remind us that we create and choose our path forward.

Above all, your healing journey is yours and yours alone. It does not need to be done alone, but it needs to be done your way. There is not one way or one protocol that works for all. You get to choose your own healing adventure and the momentum and frequency behind addressing it.

Before we part ways, please know that within all trauma, we want to forgive. 

We want to forgive those involved and ourselves. Forgiveness is an individual process and you will know in what ways and how to forgive when the time comes.

And as you heal, stay curious,

Read more about about emotional trauma at Harvard Medical School and HelpGuide.Org.

Disclaimer: This information is intended for general reference only. It is not a replacement for professional health advice. The content in this post intentionally does not provide dosage information or possible interactions with prescription drugs or other medications. Please contact a certified health practitioner such as a physician of Oriental Medicine or Herbalist before considering use. To schedule an appointment with Malerie, visit the services page.