The Importance of Presence: Trauma Is Automatic

By Dr. Will Henson

If you don’t like snakes, and I show you a picture of a snake, what happens? Your arousal level goes up – Your mind senses a threat and prepares the body for fight or flight. This process happens automatically before your rational mind catches up and tells you that it’s just a picture.    

In fact, studies have shown that if you show people pictures of snakes at a speed faster than the eye can see their arousal still goes up. The unconscious mind senses the danger where the conscious mind doesn’t.

The point is that your students who have had traumatic experiences can easily be triggered by things and not even know it. Imagine a student;

  • Being told she is going to get a consequence and not knowing what it is
  • Being approached by an angry adult when he is misbehaving
  • Walking through crowded hall full of unfamiliar people

For most kids, these are common experiences. For kids with trauma, they can be trauma triggers that even the student may not recognize.

Leave a comment