Trauma is used to describe an incident that is or is perceived to be threatening to a person’s life or bodily integrity. Traumatic events can include war, natural disasters, car accidents, rape or physical assault, childhood abuse or witnessing or hearing about a trauma that affects another (secondary trauma or vicarious trauma). Repeated and interpersonal trauma such as childhood sexual abuse or domestic abuse can be particularly harmful.
The trauma response is a natural part of our survival process, and some people recover from traumatic events without any intervention. Time, a safe and supportive environment and ‘normal life’ can be really helpful in facilitating recovery.
PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is the name given to the condition when persistent intrusive symptoms related to the trauma continue to cause significant distress for more than a month after the trauma has occurred. Common symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, low mood, anxiety, hyper-vigilance, anxiety, sleep disturbance, a feeling of detachment from others, difficulty concentrating, irritability and dissociation.
Trauma symptoms can be devastating and extremely distressing. Often people describe that they feel like they are going crazy, that they are no longer themselves, that their relationships are falling apart and that they no longer feel safe or able to cope with life. Some people may use alcohol, drugs, or other self-harming behaviours to try to cope with their symptoms, which can become problems in themselves.
This video explains how trauma impacts on us, setting off our fight, flight or freeze response.
When working with trauma I work to the 3 stage trauma model, focusing on stabilisation of the person before any exploration of the trauma itself. Stabilisation allows you to start to take control of some of the symptoms by learning how to manage them when they happen, and over time to reduce their frequency or intensity. This means that we are able to work together in a safe way, at your pace, whilst avoiding re-traumatisation (reliving or re-experiencing the trauma), or unnecessary distress. I don’t believe that people have to feel worse before they feel better and I am committed to ensuring the therapy I provide is safe and appropriate for the individual. I work in a collaborative way to try to find what feels safe and ok for you.