Trauma is an experience or situation that is emotionally painful and distressing that overwhelms a persons ability to cope and leaves them powerless.
Traumatizing experiences shake the foundations of our beliefs about safety, and shatter our assumptions of trust.
When a traumatic event happens we process it differently than a normal memory. In order to heal from this event we need to transform it so it becomes more like an every day memory. By re-exposing the traumatic memory we can begin to alter it so that it no longer is in fragments, which can trigger anxiety reactions that are acontextual in our current environment. You can conceptualize this by thinking of expanding a flashback to a more complete memory. For example a car horn may be a part of someone’s fragmented traumatic memory. A car horn in itself is a neutral thing, however, this can trigger someone to respond as though the trauma is happening all over again although they are safe in their surroundings. Re-exposure helps sift through these fragments to piece together the whole story so that the triggers are neutralized. The trauma narrative, which we create, helps place the event into a context that we can understand. This becomes our story.