The dictionary definition of trauma is 'a deeply distressing or disturbing experience'
Traumatic events can happen at any stage in our lives and everyone will react differently to trauma experiences. It can often feel overwhelming causing you to feel helpless and alone. Your response to trauma may cause you to feel various emotions such as sadness, anger, denial, fear, and shame. These are common responses to a traumatic or distressing It can affect people who have:
• Experienced the traumatic event personally,
• Who have witnessed a traumatic event,
• Friends & family of individuals experiencing trauma,
• People who are first on the scene such as emergency workers.
PTSD may develop after a distressing or disturbing event. It involves a single-incident trauma such as Severe illness or injury, Violent / Sexual assault, Traumatic loss, Mugging or robbery, being a victim of or witness to violence, witnessing a terrorist attack, Witnessing a natural disaster, Road accident, Traumatic loss, Military combat, Hospitalisation, Psychiatric hospitalisation, Childbirth, Medical trauma, Post suicide attempt trauma, Life-threatening illness or diagnosis and other single events.
Complex PTSD may develop in people who have experienced repeated trauma over a prolonged period, this can often happen in childhood. Such as
Sibling abuse, Childhood emotional abuse, Domestic violence/abuse, Emotional neglect and attachment trauma, Abandonment, Verbal abuse, Coercion, Long term misdiagnosis of a health problem, Bullying at home at school or in a work setting, Sexual, Emotional and or physical abuse.
The symptoms of PTSD & CPTSD can have a significant impact on your life. You may start to notice the symptoms develop during the first month after the traumatic event however, sometimes the symptoms may not develop for months or even years after the event.
Some common symptoms of PTSD are,
Re-experiencing - This includes nightmares, flashbacks, reoccurring distressing images, physical sensations such as sweating, heart racing, feeling sick.
Avoidance - This includes avoiding certain people, places or even talking about your experiences
Hyperarousal (sense of threat) - This includes irritability, sleeping difficulties, angry outbursts and difficulty concentrating.
The symptoms of CPTSD include symptoms of PTSD but also include other symptoms such as,
Affect Dysregulation- The inability to manage intense negative emotions such as anger, fear, sadness.
Negative Self-Concept - This is how you see yourself and can include feelings of guilt and shame. It is common to take responsibility for what happened and feel as if you are not worthy of kindness or love.
Disturbances in relationships - This includes feelings of loneliness (even within marital and social relationships) causing you to isolate further. This also includes difficulties in trusting others.
Negative beliefs about the world – Feeling as though the world is a bad and unsafe place, this may also include having a negative view of people.
Therapy can help you resolve the trauma enabling you to file the memories as part of your past.
My main goal is to construct an autobiographical representation of the sequence of events. This will allow you to process the experiences which will reduce fear responses overtime
Below is a breakdown of what to expect from your trauma therapy.
Assessment, Safety & Stabilisation and Psychoeducation
This first stage in therapy is to allow the therapist to understand your personal history and analysis of what the best treatment plan may be for you.
Safety and stabilisation will allow you to gain a sense of mastery of your body and emotions and psychoeducation will assist in normalising your experiences.
The Trauma Process
The second stage is for you to process the trauma and make sense of it. The focus in this stage is to redefine the role the trauma has played in your life.
The final phase is about re-integrating yourself and creating new meanings including new healthy beliefs of self and focusing on meaningful ways to connect with others