‘Top-Down’ And ‘Bottom-Up’ Ways Of Treating Childhood Trauma.

 

WHAT ARE ‘TOP-DOWN’ THERAPIES?

A ‘top-down’ therapy is one that aims to create a positive change in the individual’s behavioural, emotional and somatic symptoms in a ‘top-down’ direction (i.e. by beneficially ALTERING THE INDIVIDUAL’S THOUGHT PROCESSES). Techniques for doing this include cognitive restructuring and increasing the traumatized individual’s insight into his or her condition, amongst many others.

Whilst ‘top-down’ therapies are necessary and can be very effective, there is now a growing realization when treating the traumatized individual, the addition of ‘bottom-up’ therapeutic techniques may be of paramount importance in relation to treating the bodily adverse effects of trauma such as sensorimotor symptoms and autonomic dysregulation.

WHAT ARE ‘BOTTOM-UP’ THERAPEUTIC TECHNIQUES FOR THE TREATMENT OF TRAUMA?

Unlike ‘top-down’ therapies, which concentrate on an individual’s thinking processes to treat the effects of trauma, ‘bottom-up’ therapies concentrate upon BODILY EXPERIENCES as an initial route through which to treat the effects of trauma by ameliorating dysfunctional trauma-related, chronic and automatic bodily responses. This approach is taken because it is theorized that our nervous systems and muscles store distressing images and memories on an unconscious, nonverbal level and that this is manifested in various physical and bodily ways, such as :

  • body posture

  • how the person moves 

  • pain and bodily sensations

Bodily reactions to emotions, events and situations In essence, then, ‘bottom-up’ approaches to the treatment of the adverse effects of trauma aim is to correct the sensorimotor dysregulation that has occurred as a result of childhood trauma. Examples of ‘bottom-up’ therapies for treating the bodily effects of trauma include :

  • sensorimotor psychotherapy

  • yoga

  • somatic experiencing

  • breathing exercises

  • EMDR

  • drama

  • singing

  • drumming

  • tapping / Emotional Freedom Technique

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

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About David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

David Hosier MSc holds two degrees (BSc Hons and MSc) and a post-graduate diploma in education (all three qualifications are in psychology). He also holds UK QTS (Qualified Teacher Status). He has worked as a teacher, lecturer and researcher. His own experiences of severe childhood trauma and its emotional fallout motivated him to set up this website, childhoodtraumarecovery.com, for which he exclusively writes articles. He has published several books including The Link Between Childhood Trauma And Borderline Personality Disorder, The Link Between Childhood Trauma ANd Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and  How Childhood Trauma Can Damage The Developing Brain (And How These Effects Can Be Reversed). He was educated at the University of London, Goldsmith’s College where he developed his interest in childhood experiences leading to psychopathology and wrote his thesis on the effects of childhood depression on academic performance. This site has been created for educational purposes only.

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