Trauma, IFS and the nervous system.

Dec 20, 2023

Understanding Trauma and Its Impact on the Nervous System

Trauma is not just a psychological dilemma; it's a complex phenomenon that can leave deep imprints on both the mind and body. The nervous system, our body's electrical wiring that controls everything from our heartbeat to our emotions, can be significantly affected by traumatic experiences. Trauma can cause the nervous system to become stuck in a state of hyperarousal or hypoarousal, leading to various physical and emotional symptoms that can be long-lasting without proper intervention.

trauma nervous system

The Role of the Nervous System in Trauma Response

When faced with danger, our nervous system responds by preparing us to either fight, flee, or freeze. This is a normal, protective mechanism. However, when the threat is overwhelming or persistent, the nervous system may not return to its baseline state, even long after the danger has passed. This can result in a person being in a constant state of alertness or, conversely, in a numbed, disconnected state. Both are signs that the nervous system has been dysregulated by trauma.

Introduction to Internal Family Systems (IFS) Therapy

Internal Family Systems (IFS) is an evidence-based form of psychotherapy that offers a compassionate and empowering approach to healing from trauma. IFS posits that the mind is made up of multiple sub-personalities, or "parts," each with its own viewpoints, emotions, and memories. Trauma can cause these parts to become extreme or burdened, leading to internal conflict and emotional pain. IFS therapy aims to restore balance and harmony within the internal system by promoting self-leadership and healing of the traumatized parts.

IFS therapy

IFS and the Nervous System: A Healing Connection

IFS therapy can directly impact the nervous system by creating a safe psychological space for the individual to explore and heal their trauma. Through IFS, individuals learn to access the "Self," a core aspect of their being characterized by qualities such as calmness, curiosity, and compassion. By leading with the Self, individuals can help their traumatized parts to release their burdens, which can gradually bring the