Trauma is defined as “severe emotional shock and pain caused by an extremely upsetting experience”
Trauma counselling is a short-term intervention, which is appropriate when a person has suffered a traumatic incident. Trauma comes in all shapes and sizes; events such as divorce, job loss, death, mugging, armed robbery, rape, car accident, illness, failing an exam, losing your car or house – in fact any event that you regard as negative and that changes your view of yourself and your world.
Most people will suffer a traumatic experience at least once in their life.
Trauma counselling supports you in identifying and coming to terms with the feelings and emotions you may feel during and after a traumatic experience. These emotions will vary from individual to individual, but the most commonly experienced emotions are anger and fear.
Anger and fear are very powerful emotions and if suppressed will almost certainly have an impact on your well-being – physical, emotional, and mental. They are also often misunderstood emotions and perceived as “bad”. Anger and fear in themselves are neither good nor bad. A useful analogy is water: we do not label water as bad because a tsunami killed thousands of people and therefore decide never to bath or shower again. So it is with anger and fear (and in fact all our emotions) – it is how we channel our emotions that makes the difference.
Of course, our responses are not limited to anger and fear; we could also feel shock, hopelessness, numbness, self-pity, inability to cope, disbelief, grief, guilt, or any other of the emotions we are capable of feeling.
As this stored energy generally has no physical outlet, it can manifest in a host of physical symptoms such as headaches, pain in the neck and shoulders, chest pain, stomach pain, diarrhoea, yawning and sighing, absent mindedness, nausea, tearfulness, disturbed sleeping patterns and short-temperedness or aggression.
There are many trauma-counselling models and they all have the same objective:
To get your life back on track and to move you from being a victim to being a victor.
Ways that the Trauma Counsellor may use to achieve this include:
- Listening to what you are saying (and not saying)
- Supporting your coping mechanisms
- Exploring with you, and validating, your feelings and emotions
- Supporting you to make sense of the incident
- Preventing the use of suppression as a defence
- Integrating the event meaningfully into your life
Trauma counselling differs from traditional counselling and analysis in that it is typically short-term and often limited to one or two sessions. It is a fact that trauma counselling often uncovers other issues from the past that have never been dealt with and in this case, longer-term therapy may be indicated.