Diagnosing Trauma: Developmental Trauma and PTSD
If trauma results from a specific event(s) it is generally identified as PTSD or Complex PTSD. If it is rooted in an overall unsafe and harmful childhood environment it is identified as developmental trauma. Developmental trauma refers to a series of chronic traumatic events, habits, and associations causing overwhelming stress during childhood. A primary component of developmental trauma includes the absence or ineffectiveness of a caregiver to help reduce the stress. This results in a disruption in basic attachment necessary for feeling a sense of safety and security that is critical to healthy brain and body development in childhood. This may include but is not limited to chronic abuse, neglect, unsafe home, bullying, drug or alcohol abuse by caregivers or other serious hardships during childhood.
Developmental trauma is often used interchangeably with Complex PTSD however trauma experts are working to clarify it as distinct in many important ways.
- Developmental trauma is not rooted in a traumatic event like PTSD or stacked specific events like Complex PTSD and does not always lead to meeting all of the criteria for PTSD.
- In fact, research shows over 50% of people do not show signs of trauma until they are adults. This can make identifying a specific traumatic event challenging and because of this, individuals with developmental trauma often feel shame, confusion, and frustration at understanding why they feel the way they do.
- Along with many of the symptoms of PTSD, individuals with developmental trauma may also experience a chronic history of serious dysregulation in their relationships/ attachments, attention, self-esteem/ self-image, body image, self-regulation and affect.
- Health issues are also a common complaint of individuals with developmental trauma. Brainspotting’s fluid and dual attunement approach makes it highly effective at treating both developmental trauma and PTSD. https://www.authenticityassociates.com/brainspotting
Neurofeedback is not a new intervention. It was first used with NASA to help astronauts overcome seizures induced from jet fuels. NFB is gaining popularity in its use and continues to thrive as new empirical research continues to showcase its efficacy. Yucha and Montgomery have written thorough reviews of the research. These authors rated the combined efficacy of neurofeedback and biofeedback as a Level 4 treatment. Level 4 is ranked as “efficacious” through randomized, controlled and blind studies. NFB has been rated a Level 4 for anxiety reduction, attentional concerns, chronic pain, epilepsy and headaches.
I have been practicing NFB for six years now. I became board certified in neurofeedback (BCN) two years ago through Biofeedback Certification International Alliance (BCIA), www.bcia.org. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brain-waves/201608/neurofeedback-remarkable-counseling-tool
But critics argue that neurotherapy’s treatments—which might take dozens of sessions, each costing hundreds of dollars—have very little research backing them up. And although the mainstream medical community is starting to pay closer attention to the field, particularly in Europe, in the U.S. neurotherapy is still largely unregulated, with practitioners of varying levels of expertise offering treatments in outpatient clinics. At the most basic level, not everyone who’s invested in the technology that allows them to do qEEG testing is able to correctly interpret the resulting brain map. Certification to administer a qEEG test—a process overseen by the International qEEG Certification Board—requires only 24 hours of training, five supervised evaluations, and an exam, with no prior medical experience.
As Jay Gunkelman, an EEG expert and past president of the International Society for Neurofeedback and Research, puts it: “It’s a Wild West, buyer-beware situation out there.”
All this is to say that while skilled interpreters can pick up all sorts of information from an EEG, these tests are also “ripe for overstatement,” according to Michelle Harris-Love, a neuroscientist at Georgetown’s Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery. That’s worrisome since, in recent years, EEG technology has gotten cheaper and more widely available. A qEEG brain map can cost as little as a few hundred dollars, which means more people are taking a peek at their brain waves, not just for diagnostic purposes, but also with optimization in mind. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/06/this-is-your-brain-on-qeeg/532035/
Coaching people struggling with PA I specialise in recovery from narcissistic abuse and the effects of Parental Alienation
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