Two individuals are robbed at gunpoint. One experiences overwhelming helplessness and has a hard month. But by the end of that time, he has pretty much resolved and integrated the incident into his life. The other person experiences intense rage. Years later, she is still struggling with the negative, life-changing aftermath of the trauma.

As seen in the above example, not everyone reacts to trauma in the same way. Just as pain thresholds differ, so do trauma thresholds. But as William Shakespeare wrote in his play Othello, “What wound did ever heal but by degrees?”

Having studied trauma intensively over the past couple of decades, researchers now know that a traumatic event’s impact depends on the perception of it. Perception is influenced by a number of factors including age, physical characteristics, level of support, etc. Thus, emotional trauma can result from a single extreme and deeply felt experience or from a series of low-intensity events. Even everyday happenings—falls, difficult births, betrayals, medical/dental procedures—can cause the same lingering traumatic effects as extreme or violent events, such as physical abuse, combat or serious accidents.

Fortunately, even traumatic effects that linger for years can be resolved, and the result can be a new present-day reality that includes, but is not dominated by, a traumatic past.

“The same immense energies that create the symptoms of trauma, when properly engaged and mobilized, can transform the trauma and propel us into new heights of healing, mastery and even wisdom,” writes Peter Levine, author of Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma.

The Natural Trauma Response

Levine and others contend that emotional trauma goes unhealed when the natural trauma response is interrupted and feelings unleashed by the event remain unresolved. Because of this, anxiety, anger, depression, guilt, hopelessness, self-blame, shame and other feelings freeze up inside of us.

That “freeze” is not just emotional, but physical as well. Recent research indicates that parts of the brain become altered by traumatic events. These disruptions are actually visible on brain scans.

Just what is a natural trauma response? It’s the whole continuum of emotional and physical sensations that occur with the first inclination that something is wrong or dangerous. To understand it, Levine suggests that we look at how animals respond to danger, real or perceived.

After the animal has instinctively chosen to fight, flee or freeze, and the danger has passed, the animal twitches and trembles throughout the entire body, essentially “shedding” the tension required for alertness and quick response.

Human response to danger—real or perceived—can also involve shaking, sweating, crying, laughing or shuddering. Just like the animal, such responses are natural and part of the body’s effort to return to a state of equilibrium. They are crucial to the recovery process, and they may go on for hours, days or weeks.

Too often, however, we deny this process or don’t give it its due. We say to ourselves or hear from others, Pull yourself together. Forget about it. Get up and shake it off. It’s time to get on with your life.

And when we do that, when we ignore the emotional and physical sensations that continue after a traumatizing event, we interrupt the natural cycle, short-circuiting our natural ability to heal. It is this, more than anything, that sets us up for a damaging traumatic aftermath.

“The animal’s ability to rebound from threat can serve as a model for humans,” Levine writes. “It gives us a direction that may point the way to our own innate healing abilities.”


The incidence of serious negative events that typically evoke traumatic response is surprisingly pervasive in our culture today. A 20-year study released in 2005 by Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that of the 17,337 middle-class participants, a startling 64% had experienced one or more of eight categories of traumatic childhood events.

The study showed a significant connection between this childhood trauma and disease, depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol use and suicide.

Perhaps that is because unresolved trauma can undermine basic human needs. Dena Rosenbloom and Mary Beth Williams, authors of Life After Trauma: A Workbook for Healing, identify these basic needs as safety, trust, a measure of control over one’s life, self-worth and intimacy.

These writers and others stress that it is not necessary to relive one’s emotional pain in order to heal trauma. For some, doing so may trigger re-traumatization. Focus on what you can do today. Pay attention to your feelings and reactions, seek helpful support, learn from others who’ve “been there,” allow yourself to grieve and above all, take your time.

At A New Day Family Counseling in Plainfield, IL we are here to help you on your journey to resolve your trauma’s hold on your life, heal your relationships and start living the life you deserve. We offer trauma therapies such as Cognitive Processing Therapy, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and more.



Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP)

The Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) is designed to help children and adults feel better, think better and connect better. SSP is a five hour innovative intervention designed to improve an individual’s social and emotional processes and regulate the autonomic nervous system. The program is designed to reduce stress and auditory sensitivity while enhancing social engagement and resilience to stress. It improves an overall sense of well-being and increases emotional control, behavioral organization and regulation, and listening and hearing sensitivity. It is designed for clients with ADD/ADHD; PTSD; Social Anxiety and Communication Disorders; Chronic Anger/Irritability and Mood Disorders; Mild Traumatic Brain Injury; Autism Spectrum Disorder; Sensory Processing Disorders; Sleep Difficulties; and Stress.

The Safe and Sound protocol uses the auditory system to access the vagus nerve and related nerves. The vagus nerve is responsible for regulating the bodily states, listening and vocal communication. This protocol is rooted in Polyvagal Theory and the work of Dr. Stephen Porges, https://www.stephenporges.com/ (Porges, 1995,1997,1998, 2001, 2003, 2007). Dr. Porges is known for his theory of how the nervous system works to help us feel safe. For more information on the Safe and Sound Protocol https://integratedlistening.com/ssp-safe-sound-protocol/

Deanna Reed, LSW is a certified provider of the iLS Safe and Sound Protocol. Please contact her

Relationship Prep Course

This Relationship/Marriage Prep Course will provide the strong foundation you need and help you to make decisions to create a happy and lasting relationship.

Learn Communication Skills, the secrets to a lasting, happy relationship, ways to handle finances, ways to work through, difficult discussions, and prevent troubling issues early on.

The Focus Program

The Focus Program is like an exercise program for the brain. It improves brain and body function combining elements of music, movement and language to build foundational supports for body organization. As the body becomes organized, so does the brain which results in improved ability to process information from the environment, sustain attention and learn. This increases an individual’s ability to manage stress, cope with emotions, increase social adeptness, and improve school and work performance. A foundation for attention and learning is formed that may have never fully developed or lost due to brain injury. Clients report having more ability to control impulses, self-regulate behavior and engage with others more easily. Clients report having more energy, increased mental clarity, improved organization, and greater ease at getting things done. The Focus Program is effective for individuals who have been diagnosed with ADHD/ADD, Social Anxiety, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorders, Speech and Language Disorder. The Focus Program improves Written Expression and Reading Comprehension, Memory and Attention Performance, Motor Skills and Balance, and Processing Speed.

The Focus program uses the auditory system to access the vagus nerve and related nerves. The vagus nerve is responsible for regulating the bodily states, listening and vocal communication. This protocol is rooted in Polyvagal Theory and the work of Dr. Stephen Porges, https://www.stephenporges.com/ (Porges, 1995,1997,1998, 2001, 2003, 2007). Dr. Porges discovered that we are able to calm our nervous system by exercising and rehabilitating the middle ear and auditory system. As a client learns to process certain speech related frequencies, they improve the functioning of two cranial nerves that are important for promoting overall social behaviors. The Cranial Nerve VII (Facial Nerve) helps clients focus on the human vice and tune out irrelevant frequencies. The Cranial Nerve X (Vagus Nerve) enables self-soothing and nervous system regulation. For more information on the Focus Program.

Deanna Reed, LSW is providing the Focus Program. Please contact he

A New Day Family Counseling in Plainfield, IL  believes in healing individuals and the whole family. Our family relationships are the most important human connection we have and have the power to hurt or heal us.  We take a collaborative, family-centered approach and use brief, solution-focused and evidence-based treatment methods.


Main Location

23908 W. Main Street,

Plainfield, IL 60544.

Second Plainfield Location

14722 S. Naperville Road, Suite 108, Plainfield, IL 60544.