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What are you feeling? The therapist asks in this phrase or another one. At the height of an overwhelming emotional experience, one for which we haven’t fully developed the emotional vocabulary to cope with yet, we usually exclaim with an edge of defensiveness: I DON’T KNOW. Just about any therapist will immediately retort, that saying “I don’t know” means you do know, but that you just aren’t ready or willing to talk about it yet. Most of the time, they are right.

People who have lived through and survived trauma commonly experience a disconnect from their emotions. The emotions associated with and attached to trauma are too difficult to process and understand, which is why the brain compartmentalizes them, separates them, hides the away, and tries to cope with them by getting rid of them as much as possible.

Recovery from trauma includes a lot of therapeutic work involving identifying emotions. Graduates of research programs often laugh remembering how when they first began treatment, their therapists would hand them an “emoji” charts. Row upon row of cartoon facial expression line the page with the name of that emotion underneath it. Starting a group or private therapy session, the therapist asks for everyone to check in with how they are feeling. Round the chart goes as patients examine the faces and struggle to figure out which feeling they are feeling. By the end of treatment, patients don’t need the chart anymore. Easily, treatment patients can look within themselves, identify their feelings, and express them.

Naming emotions is an important part of the recovery process because naming emotions leads to regulating emotions. Mitch Ablett writes for Mindbodygreen that naming emotions will “…help us disengage from them. We can see them, and then we can begin to choose how to react instead of reacting under the sway of intoxicatingly strong emotions.” Instead of letting our emotions control us, we become in control of our emotions, Ablett explains. “We can choose to act to open ourselves and connect with others, rather than be carried away in a flood of emotional neurochemicals that wash us over the cliff.”

The more we learn to identify and work with our emotions, the less we hide from and avoid our emotions. Emotions associated with trauma are only as intimidating as wel allow them to be. Once we learn how to make peace with them, we can learn to move through them, ever progressing on our road to recovery.

The Guest House Ocala offers residential treatment programs for men and women needing recovery from trauma, addictions, and other related mental illness issues. Call us today for information on our concierge programs of care: 1-855-483-7800