Exposure to traumatic events can cause the brain to behave differently from its usual way in an attempt to protect the individual from becoming psychologically overwhelmed during a moment of intense threat. Whist this defensive manoeuvre on the part of the brain works well during the moment of crisis, it can also leave the person exposed to trauma somewhat out of sorts in the weeks, months, or even years after the traumatic incident has ended. Whilst it is understandable that anyone will likely experience a degree of distress when recalling a prior traumatic event, people with post-traumatic stress are often left dealing with a range of symptoms, from flashbacks and mood reactivity, to physical manifestations such as a racing heart, nausea, and headaches. Trauma counselling is aimed at helping the person emotionally process the traumatic event and its aftermath in a safe and contained environment, so that they can move forward to lead a fulfilling life.
How Do I Know if I’m Struggling to Deal with Trauma?
The different symptoms people can experience in the wake of a traumatic event vary widely. If you have been exposed to a traumatic event and notice any of the following, you may wish to consider trauma counselling:
- Feeling tense or agitated, often with associated muscular tension
- Using substances, such as drugs, alcohol, or food as a way to try to regulate overwhelming emotion
- Intrusive flashbacks or nightmares that appear related to the traumatic event
- Feeling numb, disorientated, or distant from yourself/others
- Outbursts of emotions such as anger or panic (in some instances, these are intermittent with periods of feeling numb/dissociated)
- Feelings of hopelessness/depressed mood
For some people, these symptoms may become apparent shortly after the traumatic event, whilst for others, they can lay dormant for months or even years. When the traumatic reaction is delayed like this, it can be especially difficult for people to pinpoint exactly where these symptoms have come from. The traumatic event doesn’t even have to have occurred directly to you for there to be a post-traumatic reaction, witnessing trauma happen to somebody else can also lead the brain to have a traumatic response.
How Can Next Wave Psychology Help?
At Next Wave Psychology, a safe, comfortable, and non-judgemental environment is provided in order for people to process difficult experiences and move forward. Treatment approaches are guided by research into methods that have a strong evidentiary basis for their efficacy. Trauma therapy at Next Wave Psychology is grounded in first teaching people healthy ways of regulating distressing emotion prior to processing of traumatic events, so that they can feel empowered, rather than overwhelmed by the process of working through such events.