Trauma Counselling in Kensington

Psychological trauma is usually thought of as an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape or natural disaster.  However, a person can be traumatised by a variety of experiences that bring great distress and a feeling of being unable to escape or manage a situation. Psychological trauma can also occur through repeated exposure such as in a relationship with an abusive partner, parent or even a boss. This can overwhelm one’s nervous system and create traumatic stress. A person’s sense of security shatters, leaving one feeling helpless and vulnerable in what seems to be a dangerous world - especially if the experience was manmade.

 

Psychological trauma can have far reaching consequences – emotional, physical and relational. Immediately after the event, shock and denial are typical. Longer term reactions may include unpredictable emotions and a chronic sense of doom, flashbacks, strained relationships and even physical symptoms like headaches, body aches, fatigue, clenched jaws or nausea.

Some of the symptoms of psychological trauma
  • Problems with clear thinking such as confusion and difficulty concentrating.

  • Shock, denial, or disbelief.

  • Anger, irritability, mood swings.

  • Anxiety and fear.

  • Guilt, shame, self-blame.

  • Withdrawing from others.

  • Feeling sad or hopeless.

  • Feeling disconnected or numb.

  • Sleep disturbances and nightmares.

  • Physical expressions of chronic stress such as gut issues or headaches.

There are three main types of psychological trauma
  • Acute trauma results from a single incident such as a break-in or a car accident.

  • Chronic trauma is repeated and prolonged such as domestic violence or abuse.

  • Complex trauma is exposure to varied and multiple traumatic events, often of an invasive, interpersonal nature.

This kind of trauma typically stems from a distressing childhood or long term close but dysfunctional relationship that leaves a person with a complex constellation of emotions such as chronic anxiety, shame and guilt, struggles with identity and so on. These kinds of traumas almost always require psychological intervention.

Many people recover spontaneously from traumatic experiences and find that with time, the memories and especially the distressing emotions start to fade naturally.  However, if symptoms are intense enough to feel overwhelming and confusing, or they last almost unchanged for more than a few months, it is best to get a psychologist’s help as the impact may be pervasive in one’s life and long lasting.

When emotional trauma is experienced as severe, it can cause lasting changes in the brain such as in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex region which is responsible for regulating emotional responses triggered by the amygdala. That means, a traumatised person who has not naturally recovered from a traumatic experience or experiences, may find it very difficult to calm down fear and anxiety in everyday life.  As one can imagine, feeling constantly stressed, easily startled and never quite settled can wreak havoc with sleep, relationships and general enjoyment of life’s pleasures.

How a Psychologist can help

Psychologists are specifically trained in helping to overcome difficult emotions such as anxiety, stress, fear, low confidence and interpersonal challenges.  Psychological interventions typically go beyond debriefing, which is often helpful, but also include tools and techniques to overcome and better manage the challenges that stem from psychological trauma and shock. Some of these may include EMDR, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Compassion Focussed Therapy, Mindfulness, Meditation, breathing techniques and so on.  Therapy is always respectfully and compassionately tailored to a specific client’s experience and needs.

 Kensington Psychology & Well-Being.   
82 Shipsters Road, Kensington Park, Adelaide. 
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