Trauma and Hope

Karni Ishai


"Trauma is a fact of life, but it shouldn't become life imprisonment" (Peter Levine)

In recent years, there has been a lot of research dealing with trauma with a deeper understanding of the nature of trauma.

Trauma is an integral part of life.  We usually overcome trauma spontaneously,by means of the resources residing in our 'Body and Soul'.

However, there are cases in which our natural resources are not sufficient for healing. In these cases,we will turn to therapy so that we can leave the trauma behind and go on with our life.

A healed trauma can transform from pain to empowerment and growth with new strengths and renewed resources.

A healed trauma expand the range of our reactions while coping with new difficulties. It gives us a better control over our lives and the ability to live  them to the fullest.

Trauma can be defined as "All these experiences in human lives, that remain stuck and unresolved and cause disturbances in the biological, physiological, emotional, mental, thinking or behavioral areas"(Jenna Ross).

Today, we distinguish between a single trauma event such as: a terror attack, an accident, a war incident, a sexual assault, the sudden death of a close person etc. An ongoing trauma is usually related to experiences such as: abandonment, neglect, physical and emotional abuse during childhood, adolescence and old age.

It is the post traumatic state that brings the injured person to seek professional help. The traumatic experience continues to persist in the present and as a result, it disables the injured from progressing in his life, from fulfilling his capabilities and from living a meaningful and satisfying life. The injured person behaves as if his life is under constant threat of the traumatic experience. He is imprisoned within himself,and is flooded with intrusive memories that produce the following two kinds of reactions: Hyperactivity or avoidance.


A feeling of constant alertness, sleeping disabilities, breathing difficulties, sweating, the need to be constantly active (as a kind of escape from the intrusive memories), heightened reactions to sudden situations.


Avoidance from thoughts, feelings and actions to the extent of the person being detached from himself and from his surroundings.


Traumatic incidents are always imprinted in our 'Body and Soul'.

It is not possible to separate the physiological from the mental processes - they are one. In Western culture, however, scholars, psychologists and other academics do make a distinction between the physiological and the mental.

In my work, time after time,I perceive the union between the physiological and the mental.

Trauma awakens 'the alarm system' in our 'Body and Soul'. All the organs of the body get organized for a reaction during and after the trauma. As a result,other systems in the body go out of balance. All at once, there are reactions between and among the physical systems, the thoughts, the memories and the emotions.

The memory of the trauma burdens us and becomes too threatening to be kept in our consciousness. Therefore we disconnect from it, letting it become locked up in our body, without us understanding why (Jenna Ross).

When treating trauma, I work in three realms at the same time:

  • The body and the movement

  • The imagination

  • The creative space


The Body and the Movement:

I invite my patients to listen to their physical sensations, to explore movement that can help tense muscles relax, and to perform breathing exercises.

The Imagination:

In the therapeutic work we use imagination to get to inner resources we are unaware of.  Broadening the scope of our personal resources helps facilitate change.

Using imagination also helps us broaden our ability to dream, to dream our life, to connect with those aspects of life which seem unattainable at a given moment.  With regained abilities it might be easier to dare at materializing dreams.

The Creative Space:

I enable my patients to experience and express the images that come up in the imaging process through a variety of creative channels. These are channels that bypass consciousness, and by doing so they offer new possibilities.

The body and the movement together with drawing, working with clay, using drama and spontaneous writing, play and important role as reflectors and navigators of the soul.