Identify Emotional Trauma in Animals

Does your pet suffer from Emotional Trauma or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

This is Part 2 of a multi-series blog post on Emotional Trauma in Animals.

What is Emotional Trauma?

As I previously discussed, trauma is the left over energy, from the naturally occurring fight, flight or freeze response to acute stress or situations. When we are unable to move through the steps of releasing the energy during a “fight or flight” experience, that energy becomes stored in the body and nervous system, thus leaving us with emotional trauma. Emotional trauma can happen from even the smallest of events, such as a minor car accident, injuries, diseases, sudden death of a friend, or a medical procedure.

Below I cover information about identification of trauma symptoms as it relates to humans. In my personal experience most of these apply to animals as well as humans. However, when you are identifying emotional trauma in your animal companions it can and may ‘look’ different.

In animals, you can typically identify PTSD and emotional trauma as a negative behavior pattern, insecurity, anxiety or avoidance to a specific situation or stimuli. In my experience, animals tend to manifest certain behavior patterns triggered by a common ‘thread’ of events or experiences. For example, every time you take your dog for a car ride he shakes uncontrollably, possibly urinates on himself and attempts to bite you. Or, when your horse is first saddled he bucks uncontrollably with no clear physical harm being done.

Some of the most common ways that stressful situations cause trauma in humans are listed below. (Courtesy: HelpGuide.org)

  •  It happened unexpectedly.
  • You were unprepared for it.
  • You felt powerless to prevent it.
  • It happened repeatedly.
  • Someone was intentionally cruel.
  • It happened in childhood.

Here are some emotional and physical human trauma symptoms including PTSD.

Emotional Symptoms include (but are not limited to):

  • Shock or denial
  • Anger, irritability, mood swings
  • Guilt, shame, self-blame
  • Feeling sad or hopeless
  • Confusion, difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety and fear
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Feeling disconnected or numb

Physical Symptoms include (but are not limited to):

  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Edgyness and agitation
  • Muscle tension
  • Insomnia or nightmares
  • Being startled easily
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Aches and pains

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is classified as an anxiety disorder that can occur after a traumatic event. There are typically 4 factors that identify PTSD. (Courtesy of: ptsd.va.gov)

1. Reliving or re-experiencing the event: You are triggered by something that reminds you of the previous event.

2. Avoidance: Avoiding situations, events or even people that you remind you of the original event.

3. Numbing: Feeling emotionally numb about the event, about current people or events in your life or ‘blocking’ previous memories.

4. Hyper-arousal: Also referred to, feeling “keyed-up”. Being easily startled, always ‘on the lookout’ or ‘on-guard’, fear of safety and irritability.

If you have identified that your animal is exhibiting any of the symptoms of Trauma listed above, or others not mentioned, there is help! We can all help our animals to heal from this just as we humans can heal and overcome trauma. In my next post I will cover some how-to’s of assisting our animals to heal!

Information Resources:  Helpguide.org., PTSD.VA.GOV
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Emotional Trauma in Animals

This is part 1 of a multi-series piece on emotional trauma in animals. Future pieces will cover how to identify emotional trauma, and what you can do to help animals recover.

As a trauma survivor I understand that we as individuals experience trauma differently and not everyone or every animal is traumatized by the same events.  Symptoms and triggers also manifest themselves differently from animal-to-animal and person-to-person. However, there are common identifying factors of trauma, that I will cover in my next post.

Trauma is defined as the unreleased energy experienced during a stressful or threatening event. Traumas can be formed from episodic exposures such as, multiple small emotional abuses, and this would be classified as Small t trauma or they can be easily identifiable, like the case of war, commonly called Big T traumas’. Whether or not an experience forms an emotional and psychological trauma is subjectively based on the individual and how the event is negotiated.

 Photo Credit: [africa]

All animals, including we humans, experience a flight, fight or freeze response when traumatized. But, if our bodies stay “locked” in that state of being, we are unable to move through it, release it, and heal.

Similarly, our animal companions can experience disturbing life events that keep them “stuck” in a traumatized state; their fight, flight, or freeze responses remain locked in their bodies. Logically, they may know they are here with you and are safe, however their nervous systems continue to experience their past traumas, even now.

As a result, animals experience traumas that they are unable to “let go of” and move forward from. What this looks like in your animal companions are patterns of negative, disturbing and/or maladaptive behavior patterns, many of which may not “make sense” and oftentimes these behaviors cannot just be “trained”  out of them.

It is now being recognized in the mainstream that animals, specifically mammals, are experiencing the psychological effects of trauma and displaying characteristics of PTSD symptoms.

A study published in 2011 that concluded: “Chimpanzees display behavioral clusters similar to PTSD and depression in their key diagnostic criteria….” Read the study here: Signs of Mood and Anxiety Disorders in Chimpanzees.

It is my hope that we will begin to assist our animals in recovery from trauma, just as we do our human partners.

Resources I recommend to learn more about Trauma:

helpguide.org

Peter Levine, Ph.D – Traumahealing.com

DragonFlyInternationaltherapy.com

Animals are Man’s best friend

Mans best friend has been referred to for many years as the canine and I am not going to dispute the important role dogs have played in our society. However, I believe that all animals are mans best friend, not just the dog. Our animals offer us opportunities for healing, self-compassion and love, that sometimes no other human being could do for us.  I have learned so many important lessons from my animal companions, and I feel that it is important that we start recognizing animals as our partners on life’s journey.

Take for instance, one of my favorite’s, the horse, wars and battles that would have been lost without their heroism and sacrifice for us. In America, we are so lucky to still have wild horse bands, and yet many of them are shipped off to slaughter and ’rounded-up’ inhumanely through the use of tranquilizers, and helicopters and just plain brute force. You find horses by the hundreds in auction yards, in various stages of illness and malnutrition.  Where is the appreciation and acknowledgement for the animals life and their contributions to us? And where is the regard for their emotions?

George (the Camel) always knew how to make his favorite human friend laugh! (Photo:Dino DeLuca)

We have to take the time to recognize the destruction that we are doing to ourselves, through the treatment of our animals. Ask just about any psychotherapist about ‘projection’ and you will probably hear a long explanation, that in summary, is the concept of any individual projecting their own personal emotions, feelings, and beliefs onto situations, or other people in their lives – either through statements, affirmations or behaviors. When you look at the concept of projection and apply it to our relationships with animals, you see an entirely new light our own personal beliefs of love, compassion and self-worth.

We have to start taking ownership of our actions and recognize the long-term impacts these choices will have on society and the planet. I would say it is nearly impossible for mankind to survive and thrive long-term with the current beliefs we have in place and the continued abusive actions we make towards our animals.

Animals are man’s greatest of teachers with powerful lessons that we may completely ignore or miss altogether without them, and our treatment of them is the greatest of lessons for humanity.

A lovely review…

One of my recent clients Sabrina provided me with a really generous review of the work I did with her dog, Boa. Sabrina is an author and maintains a blog called How To Raise your Vibration , which I highly recommend visiting. Below I have quoted some of her words, along with a link to her site and the review.

 

“Many of us are open to going to see a healer or intuitive for ourselves when we have issues come up in our lives, but we oftentimes forget about our animal friends and how they can benefit from an intuitive healing session as well….

Among a lot of other information Boa shared with Jessica….Jessica was also able to do some energy clearing work on Boa’s legs and hips and also her spine. Jessica went in and removed the blocks and trauma from Boa’s energy field and some issues that were creating discord in her root chakra, which also most likely contributed to some of Boa’s poor behavioral habits ~ such as barking ferociously at animals and people when we encounter them in the neighborhood….

Since Boa’s healing session with Jessica, Boa seems more relaxed and less stricken with pain. A lot of the tension in her hips, that I could personally feel simply through touch has diminished. Her behavior has improved as she did not bark at the animals the other day when we went for a ride through the neighborhood. Boa still has another healing session scheduled with Jessica and I know that she will continue to get better….

I am super impressed with Jessica’s connection and abilities to heal and interact with animals. If you have an animal that is in need of healing or you simply want Jessica to communicate with them to see what is going on within their being, consider contacting her for an appointment…..”

To continue reading this review of my work please visit:

 

http://howtoraiseyourvibration.blogspot.com/2011/09/my-incredible-experience-with-animal.html

 

 

Animals respond to thoughts

Where do your thoughts begin? With you or with your animal? Or do thoughts begin from some other manifestation in the Universe? When you suddenly decide to get up to take your dogs for a walk, who do you think thought of that idea first? Was it even a thought, or was it an intuitive suggestion, rather a telepathic message, from your animal?

Often times we personally are unable to identify where a thought originated from, or how. Either consciously or unconsciously, we are constantly sending out ‘messages’ and those ‘messages’ are being picked up, acted on and listened to by the world, including our animals.

When you come home and see your favorite animal companion(s), are you happy and joyous to have their company, or angry and frustrated with their “bad” behaviors? Is your mind still filled with the stress of your job and the earlier task that was not completed to your boss’ liking? How is your animal responding to you when you walk through the door? Better yet, how are you responding to your animal?

As an animal intuitive, I know that my animals ‘hear’ my thoughts and I ‘hear’ theirs, I also know that if I focus my energy and thoughts on one thing (or even many), my animals will respond. I recently read an article on Canine telepathy, the article stated that, Dogs are so in tune with us that they can read our minds, according to a new Learning & Behavior study that also determined canines are probably born with the ability.”

I am busy reading your mind, please dont disturb me. Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

For those that are skeptical of psychics, intuitives, and ‘knowers’, I give you this to think about; if an animal is born with an ability to read our mind, then so must a human, who is just an animal. And since they can read our minds, then what exactly is your mind telling them? Have you even been aware of your thoughts towards your animals? When your dog pees on the couch or tears apart your favorite pillow, are you aware of what you have focused your energy and thoughts on when you last saw them?

I leave you with the below quote and a challenge for you to apply it to your relationship with your animal.

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.” – Lao Tze


Seize your thoughts, your animal awaits you!

Try spending 10 minutes one day this week, focusing your thoughts on positive telepathic  affirmations towards your animal, and if you don’t own an animal, try a friend, or a family member. Say it in your mind and imagine sending it your animal.
If you have an animal with a bad habit such as peeing on the floor, try to think only of the animal peeing outside.Or if you have a problem with a ‘pillow eater’, try thinking only of him chewing on his favorite toy. Then, see what results you get.

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Copyright

Copyright 2010-2011 Jessica Baker
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