Recovering from Trauma
Following a traumatic experience, many children and adults struggle with upsetting emotions, frightening memories, or a sense of constant danger. Many people report feeling numb, disconnected, and unable to trust other people. But with the right treatment, strategies, and support, people can heal and move on.
'it's not what actuallyhappened, but your emotional experience of the event that matters"
Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety, but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed can be traumatic, even if it doesn’t involve physical harm. We know that it’s not the objective facts but your emotional experience of the event that matters - so the more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to feel traumatised.
Causes of trauma
We know that no two individuals respond in the same way - and that not all traumatic events will lead to emotional or psychological damage. Many people recover quickly from tragic and shocking experiences, whereas others can feel devastated by experiences that appear to be minor to others.
However, research has found that some risk factors can make people more vulnerable to emotional and psychological trauma. This can include a heavy stress load, or having recently suffered a series of losses, or people who have experienced trauma previously – especially if the earlier trauma occurred in childhood.
- Falls or sports injuries
- The sudden death of someone close
- A car accident
- The breakup of a significant relationship
- A humiliating or deeply disappointing experience
- The discovery of a life-threatening illness or disabling condition
- Childhood trauma including an unstable or unsafe environment, or separation from a parent
- Serious illness
- Intrusive medical procedures
- Sexual, physical or verbal abuse
- Domestic violence
When it's time to seek help...
Recovering from a traumatic event takes time. Everyone heals at his or her own pace. But if months have passed and your symptoms aren’t letting up, you may need professional help. You may want to consider seeking help if you are:
- Having trouble functioning at home or work
- Suffering from severe fear, anxiety, or depression
- Unable to form close, satisfying relationships
- Experiencing terrifying memories, nightmares, or flashbacks
- Avoiding things that remind you of the trauma
- Emotionally numb and feeling disconnected from others
- Using alcohol or drugs to feel better
How to support someone experiencing trauma.
Be patient and understanding.
It's important to remember that everyone’s response to trauma is different. Don’t compare your loved one’s reaction against your own response or anyone else’s.
Offer practical support.
Offer help to get back into a normal routine. That could include helping with groceries or housework, or simply being available to talk and listen. Many people find it difficult to talk about what happened. Don’t force others to open up - but let them know you are there to listen if they want to talk.
Encourage pleasant events.
Encourage participation in physical exercise, spending time with friends, and involvement in activities that bring them pleasure.
Don’t take trauma symptoms personally.
Anger, irritability, withdrawal and becoming emotionally distant are common symptoms. These behaviours may not have anything to do with you or your relationship.
Treatments that Work
At Mindworx Psychology we offer gold standard trauma therapy treatments: Our treatments have been tested, and are approved by the World Health Organisation, and the Australian Psychological Society (APS).
Recommended trauma treatments include:
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), which incorporates elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy with bilateral brain stimulation.
Brain stimulation is non-invasive and achieved through a series of eye movements (or sounds) for those with vision impairment. This helps 'unlock' memories for reprocessing.
EMDR is highly recommended for individuals with developmental or complex trauma, but also has evidence-based protocols for single incident traumas.
Trauma Focused CBT (Cognitive behavioural therapy) helps you process and evaluate your thoughts and feelings about a trauma, understand your emotional experience, and process the meaning of the experience. Prolonged exposure therapy may be offered as a part of treatment, as well as skills acquisitions in emotion regulation, cognitive restructuring, relaxation and mindfulness techniques.
One size doesn't fit all - as the field develops and new therapies emerge, we integrate what works into our treatment protocols.
We believe offering evidence based treatments is essential as it miminises any risks of re-traumatisation for our clients.
We carefully utilise and teach techniques from Somantic Experiencing, ACT, DBT, Mindfulness and Emotion Focused therapy to assist you in understanding, processing and managing your physiological and psychological trauma responses.
The focus of therapy remains validated evidence based protocols.
Common Trauma FAQs
How many sessions will I need to process this trauma?
The reality in our practice is that by the time our clients call us, they are incredibly anxious to get rid of symptoms - and the memory. While these are crucial steps in therapy, they are not the only steps that take place.
The gold standard treatment protocols agreed upon by the leading bodies of trauma research and treatment has a number of phases: Safety and coping skills Processing of trauma memories Integration Therefore, for some clients, rebuilding a sense of safety and learning coping skills may range from a few sessions - to a year or more (for a survivor of complex trauma and severe dissociative symptoms).
During the first appointment it will be important to talk about what you can expect based on your individual circumstances. While it’s not always possible to give an exact timeline, in the assessment session we can often get a good idea of what the situation is, what the most helpful treatment might look like,and what skills need to be developed before moving forward.
What if I can't remember it properly?
If I can’t remember the abuse, does that mean I won’t be able to process the trauma?
There are evidence-based therapies that do not rely on a coherent memory to process the trauma. Following trauma, many clients have "black spots" or "gaps" in memory. The trauma research field is expanding as we increase our understanding of how trauma is stored in the body and how to best processed memories to achieve resolution. For example, although a client may have no visual images or available narrative of what happened, they may remember the feelings of terror. By connecting with feelings, many clients can begin to process the trauma.