Trauma Therapy Services in Singapore
According to a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, Dr Daniel Siegel, trauma is defined as events or experiences that overwhelm one’s ability to cope, such as childhood abuse or a natural disaster. People often experience immediate reactions of shock and denial that the event has happened. However, some people may also experience an unpredictable emotional response.
A Singapore Mental Health Study reveals that around 2 in 3 adults experienced at least 1 adverse childhood experience in their first 18 years of life.
Developmental trauma refers to any early relational traumatic event, such as separation from parents, loss of a parent, physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse, that interrupts healthy attachment patterns such as emotional regulation, cognition, and behavioural control (Elbretch & Antcliff, 2014; Naff, 201; Lawson & Quinn, 2013).
Symptoms of Trauma
If one does not process traumatic memories from their early childhood, it may have a long-lasting negative impact on the individual throughout their life. Symptoms of this lingering trauma include poor communication skills, being unable to regulate emotions, having difficulties forming new relationships or maintaining existing relationships, and having low self-esteem, confidence, and motivation. Such struggles may lead to mental health issues including suicidal ideation, anxiety disorder, panic attacks, major depressive disorder, and other types of psychological struggles and symptoms.
Holding such painful memories and emotions for long could also result in psychosomatic and physical symptoms. In other words, feeling such emotional pain can manifest into physical body pain such as headaches, neck, shoulder, and back pain. Such pain will be long-term until the emotional pain is processed and released.
It is challenging to process these complex emotions on your own. With trauma-informed art psychotherapy, you will be able to process past difficult emotions in a safe, confidential, and non-intrusive manner, eventually relieving your symptoms. That's how mental health professionals at Solace can help.
How Trauma Affects the Brain
Your brain's limbic system controls and processes emotions. It's not just responsible for creating emotional responses. These brain impulses also directly correlate to your action.
In most cases, emotional responses such as fear are essential to help you react to danger. For example, when you remember that fire feels hot and can burn you, you know that you will not touch the stove again. That's a normal reaction.
However, when you've experienced a traumatic event, memories and emotional responses may not be helpful to you. You still feel fear or anxiety even when the danger or threat is not present. You might also behave irrationally in response to an environmental trigger or perceived threat because you are reliving past traumatic experiences in the present. For instance, when a child experiences relational trauma from abandonment or abuse, they might then exhibit strong psychological responses to their childhood photos in adulthood (Springer et al., 2013).
Dr Bessel van der Kolk, famous for his research on trauma healing, states that trauma sufferers may remember events differently. The brain might alter the memories stored, and they might be unable to regulate their emotions. Even those who can remember the terrible event might not be able to articulate what's happening to them.
Why Counselling May Not Be Enough
Speaking about the trauma is not recommended, as sufferers may feel even more overwhelmed. This is known as emotional flooding. The sudden intensity of emotions can result in re-traumatisation, causing them to feel as if they're re-experiencing the terrible event. Therefore, while talking is generally good for sharing your feelings, this method is unhelpful for healing. In addition, sufferers might feel too intimidated by the psychological response of pain or grief to continue trauma counselling or PTSD counselling.
When unable to talk about their feelings, trauma sufferers may resort to rationalising their thoughts and feelings. As a result, they ignore their emotional responses, which causes their mental health to suffer.
In the long run, people unable to process or manage their feelings after a psychological trauma might struggle with low self-esteem or live with anxiety. Some might turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as substance abuse or fall into depression. This will have a great impact on their health, personal life, work, and their loved ones. Therefore, working with a mental health professional for trauma treatment is highly recommended. Here's where mental health professionals from Solace play an important role, by guiding you on your journey through the healing process.
How Art Therapy Can Help
Why is it so important to seek therapy treatment and process trauma responses if talking about trauma is not recommended?
Most people, unconsciously block off their memories of adverse childhood experiences or traumatic events to live a normal life. But the tension, stress and symptoms from the events remain. They might live with trauma symptoms such as chronic fatigue from constant mental and physical pressure. Or they resort to unhealthy coping behaviours to keep themselves distracted from the memories. Unresolved trauma can also lead to challenges in interpersonal communication and trust, which can affect a person’s relationship with others at home and at the workplace.
Therefore, the best way to help people who have experienced trauma is to let them express their feelings and experiences without talking about them.
Solace Art Psychotherapy facilitates healing through non-verbal communication using visual arts. Clients express their feelings through art such as colours and images, helping them to convey thoughts and feelings that may be difficult to say.
Whether drawing, painting, stitching or sculpting, artmaking allows the client to externalise their traumatic experiences or emotions through a sensorial and kinesthetic approach. Stepping back to assess the artwork allows the client to process the trauma gently, in a non-intrusive manner, helping to integrate their fragmented inner self through the art psychotherapy sessions. Over time, this can improve feelings of depression, self-harm, anxiety, low motivation, and other symptoms.
At Solace, our trauma-informed art psychotherapists will be there to guide you by establishing a safe environment before processing the trauma experiences and the difficult emotions at the pace that you need.
Trauma Therapy through Art
You do not need artistic skills to attend art therapy sessions. By producing art and communicating through non-verbal means, you are able to express trauma that you may not be able to verbalise in traditional counselling sessions. At Solace, art therapy is not just a way to process traumatic events and understand the stress triggers in your life. You can also engage in these sessions for personal development and professional growth. You are welcome to try these sessions before deciding to embark on a self-discovery, recovery, and healing journey with our art psychotherapists at Solace.
Each session is up to 90 minutes long. Absolutely no artistic skills or prerequisites are needed for our psychotherapy sessions.
Senior Art Psychotherapist:
Principal Art Psychotherapist:
Solace Art Therapist Singapore
At Solace Art Psychotherapy, our team of registered art psychotherapists offers insightful sessions, ensuring privacy, ethical practices, and competent trauma therapy. We take pride in empowering clients, helping them heal from past complex trauma. Our vision is to establish art psychotherapy as an integral means towards psychological well-being for all in Singapore.