Trauma counselling in Footscray & Mill Park
We support you to develop adaptive ways to manage your feelings.
At Safe Place Therapy we value the idea of stability first before trauma work, this means working with the person to stabilize their life before delving into the trauma. This is because the trauma work can bring back old memories that can be painful to process.
Trauma counselling helps you understand traumatic events and what coping mechanisms you used to get through.
These coping mechanisms may have been helpful at the time but are now unhelpful.
For example, you used alcohol to try and numb the feelings but are now becoming reliant on it and drinking too much.
Our work is on a case by case basis and focused on client safety at all times.
Through therapy, we can help you process feelings and emotions that have come up either during or after a traumatic event.
Trauma can involve a single event or incident like a rape, being physically assaulted, being robbed, a car accident, witnessing a robbery or assault or rape, or being involved in a natural disaster. Trauma can also be repeated over a long period of time like child sexual assault, childhood neglect or abuse.
Trauma work can be slow but it is so important for it to be done in a safe way that does not cause you to feel more overwhelmed and less able to cope.
The Australian Psychological Society (APS) says that everyone’s reactions to traumatic experiences are different. Most people recover with the help and support of friends and family and do not experience any negative long-term problems.
However, some people experience difficulties directly after the traumatic event or much later. When someone is psychologically traumatised, it means that their mind is affected as a result of a distressing event. Often people become overwhelmed and unable to cope or are unable to integrate the emotions involved in the experience.
So, what is trauma in practice? Typical causes of psychological trauma include; harassment, abandonment, abusive relationships, rejection, co-dependence, physical assault, sexual abuse or sexual assault, partner violence, police brutality, bullying, family violence, being the victim of an abusive parent (emotionally, physically or sexually), the threat or the witnessing of violence (particularly in childhood), and life-threatening medical conditions.
Other traumatic events include things like catastrophic natural disasters such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, large-scale transportation accidents.
Other causes of trauma include fire, motor vehicle accident, mass interpersonal violence like war, terrorist attacks or other mass tortures like sex trafficking, being taken as a hostage or kidnapped.
These are some of the most common events that can cause psychological trauma. Often people who have protective factors like friends and family support and psychological robustness are able to recover from an event.
Trauma can cause ongoing psychological problems. It will affect a person’s sense of safety, confidence in themselves and their ability to regulate their own emotions. Many mental health conditions have their roots in a person trying to adapt to or deal with past trauma.
Some of the most common mental health issues that happen as a result of experiencing a traumatic event or ongoing trauma are; Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Depression, Anxiety or Substance Abuse.
To find out more about any of these mental health issues, and what we can do to help please see the supporting blog posts.
Trauma can cause ongoing psychological problems. It can also affect a person’s sense of safety, self and self-efficacy as well as their ability to regulate their own emotions. Some of the most common mental health issues that happen as a result of experiencing a traumatic event or ongoing trauma are; Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Depression, Anxiety or Substance Abuse.
If you are interested in finding out more about any of these mental health issues please see the supporting blog posts.
The severity of trauma symptoms varies widely. Some common reactions to trauma include:
- Re-experiencing the trauma mentally and physically
- The mind becomes fixated on thinking about the event over and over.
- Compulsive or obsessive behaviours
Reminders of the trauma are called triggers, which remind the person of the traumatic event. Triggers can cause flashbacks which is a dissociative event, where a person feels as though the event is happening to them again in the present.
It can be mild like remembering the event, or severe like a complete immersion in the memory and not being aware of the present.
Sometimes people try and manage these triggers or negative effects of the trauma by using alcohol, illegal drugs, gambling etc. to try and escape or numb the intense feelings. Triggers reminding someone of the trauma can also cause anxiety and other emotions like fear, dread, anxiety, panic etc.
The person may be aware of triggers, but at other times they may be completely unaware of what these triggers are. Another effect of a traumatic event may be Panic attacks, which may be a psychosomatic response to the emotional trigger. Some other commonly experienced feelings are anger coming to the surface, sometimes inappropriately and unexpectedly. Another common symptom is nightmares or even insomnia where the person is hyper-vigilant and on the lookout for danger.
A symptom that happens with people who have experienced childhood trauma is that the person has difficulty remembering the trauma or has large gaps in their memory. This results in the person re-experiencing emotions experiencing during the trauma in the present without understanding why. This can cause many other psychological and physical symptoms. If this continues without treatment a person can become extremely emotionally exhausted.
Some people who are not able to resolve the symptoms of trauma either naturally or with therapy may feel permanently damaged or lose hope that things will ever change. This can lead to feelings of despair, hopelessness, helplessness, loss of self-esteem, emptiness, suicidality and depression. Some common symptoms experienced after a trauma include:
- Intrusive thoughts
- Feelings of anger, guilt or shame
- Feeling overwhelmed easily
- Up and down moods
- Psychosomatic symptoms (for example. stomach pain or upset stomach, chest pain, neck pain, back pain, headaches)
- Poor self-esteem and self-worth
- Weight issues (eg emotional eating)
- Depression and anxiety
- Panic attacks
- Alcohol or other substance addiction
- Self harm (for example cutting)
- Heightened startle response
- Poor concentration
- Emotional numbing or dissociation
- Eating disorders
There may be other symptoms you experience that are not listed above that you experience.
There are a number of psychological treatments that have been found effective for trauma, such as; EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), Somatic Experiencing, biofeedback, Somatic Therapy, Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT) as well as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
In certain cases medication such as antidepressants are used in combination with psychological approaches.
In Trauma counselling it is important to develop positive coping strategies instead of negative coping strategies. Some of the things that are helpful to develop in counselling are psychoeducation which is the process of understanding how trauma works and becoming educated in how your brain and emotions work.
- Emotional regulation, which consists of identifying when you are heightened and being able to use grounding thoughts and strategies to help calm yourself..
- Cognitive processing which is over time transforming negative perceptions and beliefs into positive ones about self, others and the environment.
- Trauma processing which can involve things like systematic desensitization, response activation and counter-conditioning and others.
It’s important for the counsellor in trauma counselling to focus on particular strategies that are going to be effective for you.
Trauma Counselling at Safe Place Therapy
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