After experiencing a significant trauma, people react in different ways. Some are able to recover, gradually integrating the experience and moving forward in life without it being an obstacle. Others, either because of the extent, duration or type of trauma, or the age at which it occurred, and aspects of their particular make up, are left with residual effects.

Because it can manifest in a variety of ways, Post traumatic stress disorder can be neglected as the correct diagnosis. Symptoms may include disturbing thoughts, feelings, or dreams related to the traumatic event(s), mental or physical distress in response to trauma-related cues, and attempts to avoid trauma-related places or situations. Depression and anxiety are very common, and high levels of stress are universal.

Treating trauma is tricky, because each person has to discover whether it is more helpful to focus directly on the traumatic event, or to work around it. In either case, gaining skills to break through the hard-wired fear response associated with reminders of a terrifying or painful event is painstaking, but essential.

What can we do? Effective treatment usually involves the use of psychotherapy and medication together. At Support Counselling, we may use EMDR, an approach grounded in the idea that traumatic memories are stored in the brain differently than others, and that they can be re-set to be processed normally. Other forms of more traditional therapy can also be helpful as we carefully explore your triggers, and learn from your reactions what is necessary to re-establish a sense of safety in the world. Trauma takes away our ability to trust. Re-claiming the right to trust, starting in the therapy relationship, is a powerful part of the healing process.