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Trauma

The dictionary defines trauma as “a deeply distressing or disturbing experience”. Defined like that the events which can be considered traumatic are wide ranging indeed - from what might be considered the stuff of ordinary life such as divorce, illness, accidents and bereavement to extreme experiences of war, torture, rape and genocide.

Insofar as we adopt this wide ranging definition trauma is the stuff of everyday life.

Types of trauma:

  • Developmental Trauma
  • PTSD
  • Sexual assault
  • Child neglect/physical and sexual abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • War/conflict trauma
  • Violence experienced in the community or school
  • Medical trauma
  • Birth trauma
  • Emotional abuse
  • Psychological maltreatment
  • Traumatic loss

Possible symptoms experienced when you have experienced a traumatic event:

  • feeling on edge – on the lookout for danger, worrying that something may happen
  • being jumpy – easily startled by loud noises, sudden movements, etc
  • difficulty sleeping – difficulty in getting off to sleep, waking up during the night, having vivid dreams or nightmares
  • intrusive memories – thoughts or images of the traumatic event ‘come out of the blue’, or are triggered by sounds, smells, or sights that somehow bring it all back
  • feeling as if it were happening again – this may feel as if the traumatic events are recurring all over again
  • feeling overwhelmed - by intense feelings and bodily sensations that you feel you cannot handle
  • guilt and shame – feelings about letting yourself or others down, about being in some way responsible, or because you survived when others didn’t
  • anxiety – feelings of fearfulness, nervousness and sometimes panic
  • sadness – feelings of low mood and tearfulness
  • anger – at the injustice or the person who is responsible
  • emotional numbness – feeling detached and unable to have feelings
  • withdrawal – retreating into yourself, avoiding company
  • disappointment – thinking that other people (including family) do not understand
  • mental avoidance – of thoughts and memories associated with the event
  • behavioural avoidance – of activities, places, people and situations which remind you of the incident
  • physical reactions – such as feeling shaky, trembling, muscular aches, tiredness, difficulty concentrating, being forgetful, palpitations, shallow rapid breathing, dizziness, stomach upset, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, disturbance of menstrual cycle or loss of interest in sex
  • impact on relationships – the experience of trauma and bereavement can however sometimes place strains on relationships. You may feel that too little, or the wrong sort of help and support is offered, or that others do not appreciate what you have been through and expect too much of you
  • drink and drugs – sometimes, there is a tendency for people to rely on drink or drugs as a means of coping
  • loss of confidence and self esteem – feeling that nothing you do is good enough
  • feelings of irritability, frustration, and anger – if things do not work out as you want

At Castle Counselling Services we can offer you a safe, secure, confidential and non-judgemental space in which to explore your trauma in more depth. This will be done very gently and will be very much led by yourself as client. As integrative counsellors our therapist may utilise the following concepts in your sessions:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy techniques – the focus of these concepts will be relative to the identification of your cognitions and how these may be modifying your behaviour in various situations. There will also be identification of shattered beliefs and rebuilding these through cognitive restructuring, which in turn may assist you in developing new meanings from your traumatic experiences.

Behavioural experimentation and graded exposure – Avoidance of certain situations can be very common in individuals who have experienced trauma. Behavioural experimentation and exposure may be considered if avoidance is becoming something that is holding you back.

Trauma and the body - trauma can live on in our bodies long after the events, and our natural body responses can be one of fight, flight, freeze or flop. Consideration of how the trauma may still be present in a sensorimotor sense can be very beneficial in assisting you in moving on by recognising how your body responds to trauma and how this can be expelled.

Creative techniques – creative/art therapy techniques can be used to good effect to assist you in progressing through your trauma without having to relive it and can assist in avoiding re-traumatisation.

Who can help you?

Counselling services in the North Coast Causeway area of Northern Ireland, we can offer you an initial telephone consultation for 15/20 minutes free of charge for you to discuss the reason you are seeking counselling.

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Louise O'Kane

Integrative Counsellor

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My name is Louise and I am a fully qualified professional integrative counsellor. My therapy base is…

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Monica O'Neill

Integrative Counsellor

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I am a professional, qualified, integrative counsellor providing a counselling service and I am base…