A woman asks what imagery works best for the trauma of having given up a firstborn daughter for adoption and then, after having 2 more children, having 2 abortions, plus childhood trauma.. Dear BR,
I have searched your database for these traumas but to no avail. I lost my firstborn daughter to adoption, had 2 more daughters, then 2 abortions. Earlier childhood trauma is also present but so far unidentified, and I''m considering hypnosis & therapy to deal with the intense mood swings that I feel may be related to these events. Do you have research or info into trauma of adoption & abortion?

Dear Georgette,
There is no need to search for information by specific traumatic event. Believe it or not, traumatic stress is traumatic stress, and regardless of whether it’s from an automobile accident, rape, combat or a hurricane, the symptoms look pretty much the same - flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, sleep and concentration problems, anxiety, panic attacks, emotional and even physical numbness, mental confusion, memory impairment, (sometimes amnesia), shame, grief, anguish, fury, irritability, temper, estrangement, alienation and loneliness. The symptoms look the same because they originate from the human biochemical response to threat to life and limb, from whatever the source.

Our imagery for Healing Trauma (PTSD) fills the bill for help with most of these issues over time, and, in my opinion, it’s just about the most potent and sophisticated imagery we offer. It starts by gently escorting the listener’s awareness back down into the body (because most posttraumatic stress survivors don’t spend enough time ‘home’ in their bodies), then moves into exploring the territory of his/her own broken heart, which ultimately leads to the discovery of his/her deepest core, the part of the self that can never be diminished or destroyed.

But this potent healing guided imagery is designed to de-numb you, and evoke feelings an important part of the healing but for many posttraumatic stress survivors, this is not easy. Because of this, you might do well to start with simpler, mood-regulating imagery first, so that a baseline of self-soothing skills are in place before moving on to the intensity and depth of the PTSD imagery. Andy Weil’s or Ken Cohen’s breath work meditation audios are wonderful for this. In addition, people do well with our Relaxation & Wellness; Relieve Stress; or Affirmations imagery.

If your posttraumatic stress (PTSD) has to do with incest or childhood sexual abuse, I also recommend Peter Levine’s excellent audio, Sexual Healing, which offers four gentle, safe guided meditations for those with a traumatic sexual history.

In addition, for a general energizing, relaxing experience designed to ground the listener and encourage reconnecting with the body, Suzanne Scurlock Durana’s program, Healing from the Core , is just the ticket, masterfully taught and easy to follow.

Other trauma-related imagery of would be for Healthful Sleep; Ease Grief; Combat Depression ; or Anger & Forgiveness. And for spiritual uplift, I heartily recommend Lynne Newman’s beautiful Song of the Soul. For a complete guide to how, when and why to use imagery to heal trauma, my new book, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal, is a good resource.

Other things trauma survivors can use to help with their healing are counseling (with someone who understands trauma), support groups, information about the nature of trauma and what it does to you, medication (especially the SSRI’s), prayer & ritual, relaxation & attunement skills, physical exercise or moving meditation, journaling or other forms of self expression, energy or body work and many of the imagery-based "alphabet therapies", such as EMDR, EFT, SE, TIR and the like.

Good luck to you and all best wishes,