Trauma Work & Brain Spotting

The practice of psychotherapy has increasingly recognized the influence of emotional and physical trauma on the psyche of the individual. In 1992, Dr. Coughlin returned to academia to complete a doctoral degree. The focus of her studies and her final dissertation was the understanding and evaluation of treatment options for individuals impacted by traumas.

A trauma is defined as: an event which suddenly disrupts one’s sense of safety, predictability, and stability. Research has proven that adverse childhood experiences often lead to lifelong emotional difficulties and diminish individual performance. To do a self evaluation to determine if this service may be needed for you, click here to take this simple ten-question test. For any score over three, a consultation is recommended.


Traumatic experiences may derail a person’s ability to manage their life and trigger mood disorders, rage or drug use. When someone has a repeated pattern of emotional intensity disproportionate to the situation, it is usually triggered by events similar to past traumas, therapy is highly recommended. In a traumatic situation, a person moves into survival mode (fight, flight or freeze), doing whatever is needed to survive the assault on one’s sensibilities. Immediately after trauma, most individuals attempt to resume normal functioning as soon as possible. In doing so, we often fail to process the emotions attached to the trauma; those emotions become suppressed and stay within the psychological structure, often contaminating our responses in the present. Trauma residue is the unprocessed, unresolved emotional remnants of a traumatic event.


The good news is that most symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder can be resolved, however, traditional therapeutic tools are seldom effective. Because traumatic material is stored in a non-linear, non-rational manner, trauma treatment must rely on procedures which allow the person to review and reprocess the experience. Dr. Coughlin uses Brainspotting and Traumatic Incident Reduction.

The decision to work on specific trauma is the client’s. Dr. Coughlin will collaborate but you are in charge of what, when and how trauma work will proceed. Session length may be extended to assure you will not be re-traumatized by beginning to “tell the story” and be abruptly interrupted by the end of the 50 minute hour. The goal is to resolve the traumatic residue; it can be done!