Counselling for Trauma
Traumatic events usually come out of the blue and can leave us feeling shocked, disorientated, and distressed. We may feel like our world has been turned upside down.
Accidents, illnesses, disasters, assault, combat, and sexual, emotional, and physical abuse are all events which are potentially traumatic.
Due to the nature of these experiences it can be very difficult for survivors of traumatic events to talk about them. This difficulty can come from feelings like fear, shame, embarrassment, and anger.
Counselling for trauma is not aimed at having you revisit the event, but rather the feelings and consequences that the event has left you with.
What is a
Traumatic events largely relate to experiences in which you, or someone close to you, have been put at risk of serious harm or death.
Serious harm refers to anything that might cause physical, emotional, spiritual, or psychological distress.
There is not an exhaustive list of possible traumatic events, and you do not need to find and justify your experience on such a list in order to seek counselling for it.
What one person might consider traumatic, another may not. What is most important is the effect that the event has had on you.
Following traumatic events you are likely to experience a range of unfamiliar psychological, emotional, and physical reactions. Different people exposed to the same trauma may respond in different ways.
In the first few hours people may be shocked and stunned and have difficulty believing what has happened to them. In the days and even weeks following an event, many people will continue to feel confused, distressed and fearful.
It is important to understand that to think and feel this way immediately following trauma is a normal response to an abnormal situation.
Some reported experiences following trauma include being on edge, difficulty sleeping, intrusive memories, guilt, shame, anxiety, sadness, anger, withdrawal, emotional numbness, loss of confidence and self esteem, and an increased reliance on substances.
Although it is possible for individuals to come to terms with traumatic events, put them in perspective, and carry on with life, sometimes the problems listed above can still cause difficulties many weeks, months or years later and can become a barrier to work, relationships, and other important aspects of life.
If this is the case, it is likely that you are experiencing what counsellors refer to as 'post-traumatic stress'. Sometimes just knowing this and that there is a name for what you are experiencing can be helpful.
Talking things through with a counsellor or psychotherapist can help. Sometimes they will offer suggestions for ways to deal with some of the specific problems you might have and may help you to make sense of your experiences.
The important thing to remember is that you are in the driving seat. If it turns out that you are not ready to talk about your trauma then that is okay, and the counselling will work at your pace.