How the Body Keeps the Score: Trauma Therapy in Southern Maryland

By Molly Stackhouse

Trauma is a fact of life. It can happen to anyone, at any time. While the effects of trauma can vary from person to person, there is one thing that is certain: trauma leaves a mark on the body and brain.

In his book The Body Keeps the Score, Bessel van der Kolk, MD, one of the world's foremost experts on trauma, explains how trauma literally reshapes both body and brain. He writes, "When we experience overwhelming stress, our bodies go into a state of hyperarousal. This is a natural survival response that helps us to fight or flee from danger. But when the danger is not over, and our bodies stay in this state of hyperarousal, it can have a devastating impact on our physical and mental health."


Nervous system: The body's stress response system becomes overactive, leading to symptoms such as anxiety, panic attacks, and difficulty sleeping.

Immune system: The immune system becomes weakened, making people more susceptible to illness.

Brain: The hippocampus, a part of the brain that is important for memory and learning, can be damaged by trauma. This can lead to problems with memory, concentration, and decision-making.


Recurrent thoughts and images: People who have experienced trauma often have intrusive thoughts and images about the event. These thoughts can be very distressing and can make it difficult to focus on other things.

Avoidance: People who have experienced trauma may try to avoid anything that reminds them of the event. This can include places, people, or activities.

Negative emotions: People who have experienced trauma often experience negative emotions such as fear, anger, sadness, and guilt. These emotions can be overwhelming and can make it difficult to cope with daily life.


The good news is that there is hope for recovery from trauma. With the right treatment, people can learn to manage their symptoms and live full and productive lives. Help is available. If you or someone you know is struggling with trauma, please reach out to Southern Maryland Mental Health for help. There are many resources available to support you on your journey to recovery.

Trauma-focused therapy: This type of therapy helps people to process the trauma and develop coping mechanisms.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR): This therapy uses eye movements to help people to reprocess traumatic memories.

Brainspotting:  Brainspotting is a therapeutic technique that helps individuals process and release negative emotions and trauma. It involves identifying a "brainspot" or a specific point in the visual field that is related to the emotional or physical discomfort being experienced. 


The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, MD

The National Center for PTSD (

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) (

If you are looking for trauma therapy in Southern Maryland, and you are struggling, there are EMDR therapists who can help you. EMDR therapy is a safe and effective treatment and it can help you to heal and live a more fulfilling life. If you are interested in learning more about EMDR therapy,  schedule an appointment with Southern Maryland Mental Health and consult with one of our clinicians today!

Molly Stackhouse is a therapist located in Calvert County, Maryland.  She owns a private practice located in Southern Maryland where she specializes in working with adolescents adults who experience panic attacks. Additionally, she has a strong understanding of the different types of trauma and the different ways that people respond to trauma. She uses a variety of therapeutic approaches, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and brainspotting. Additionally, she is a nationally certified school psychologist. If you are interested in services, use the link here

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