Fire-Related Trauma

Trauma Therapy in Petaluma, CA

In the last several years, Northern California has seen unprecedented fire activity, with the Tubb’s and Nun’s fires of 2017, the Camp Fire of 2018, and now the Kincade Fire of 2019. The impact on our communities has been substantial and, following these destructive disasters, many individuals, including children, teens, adults, and elders, have been significantly impacted by stress- and trauma-related difficulties.

When faced with overwhelming stress, the nervous system moves into high arousal activity that, in the face of danger, promotes our ability to escape and survive. Neurons in the limbic system, the emotional center of the brain, enter overdrive to prepare the body via a cascade of stress hormones to flee. This is highly adaptive mechanism hardwired into our biology and is common in mammal species. The difficulty for human beings, however, is that the nervous system tends to get stuck in these hyperaroused states, which leads to ongoing anxiety, stress, and difficult symptoms long after the adverse experience has passed. Because our frontal lobes have the capacity to think about, imagine, and recall negative experiences, such as the threat of fire, a simple recollection can trigger a host of overwhelming emotions. This is because after the traumatic event, the nervous system is sensitized to this highly aroused activity, as if it experiences day-to-day life under ongoing threat.

Neurofeedback works to “un-train” this activity in the brain by helping the nervous system to remember how to engage in more relaxed, lower frequency after trauma. I work with children, teens, adults, and elders with PTSD, complex PTSD, anxiety, and other stress-related symptomolgy to train their nervous systems back into a self-regulated state of balance and calm. Clients usually experience benefits within 3 – 8 sessions, and the training process usually involves 12 – 30 weekly sessions.

If you are suffering with heightened anxiety, hypervigilance, and other stress-related symptoms, please feel free to contact me for more information on how neurofeedback can be helpful to you.

Sil Machado, Ph.D. is a psychologist in Santa Rosa specializing in neurofeedback training for anxiety, PTSD, and other stress-related conditions.