Trauma is the emotional response to the experience of a terrible incident which can result in feeling helpless, frightened, vulnerable, hurt, isolated or alone. Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety, but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and alone can be traumatic, even if it doesn’t involve physical harm. The specific details of the event does not determine whether it is traumatic it is your subjective emotional experience that is the determining factor. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatized.
Traumatic Experiences include sexual assault; physical assault; sexual, emotional or verbal abuse; child-hood sexual abuse; a death; loss of a relationship or employment; serious illness; an accident; witnessing an assault or accident; a medical procedure or hospitalisation; divorce; dislocation; bullying; racial abuse; war or civic unrest. Trauma can occur after just one traumatic incident or following multiple ongoing traumatic experiences. It is very normal to feel emotional upset, shock, disbelief or anger following the incident.
Symptoms that you may experience include flashbacks, upsetting memories or a sense of dis-ease within yourself. You may feel numb, disconnected or in a constant state of fear that something bad is going to happen again. You could experience irritability, mood swings, guilt, shame and have difficulty concentrating or feel confused. You may become anxious or withdrawn. All of these symptoms are a normal response and will dimish with time. However, if these feelings persist and you find you are avoiding situations or having difficulty moving on with your life then now might be the time to consider speaking with a therapist.
Psychotherapy has been established as suitable treatment for trauma and research has shown that adopting a multi-modal approach in therapy can lead to successful recovery from the experience. The traumatic experience is a uniquely individual experience for which the therapist must employ a uniquely individual approach when working with the client. As an integrative psychotherapist, I adopt my approach to work uniquely with the person sitting in front of me in order that together we can find a way through the experience so that it does not continue to negatively impact life.
As part of World Mental Health Week, I gave a short interview with Trevor Keegan on Walk in My Shoes FM Radio. Listen here for the full interview.