Trauma

In the course of a lifetime, most of us will experience several personally traumatic incidents. Seeking the advice and perspective of a counsellor can help you build your coping skills, regain your certainty and renew confidence in your innate skills to help get through difficult times.

An event is traumatic if it threatens your safety and/or makes you feel helpless. Traumatic events include war, natural disasters, car or plane crashes, terrorist attacks, rape, kidnapping, assault, sexual or physical abuse, childhood neglect, and a  death of a loved one. (including pets)

There are also traumatic events that are not always obvious to us and we may need counselling to help us identify and process those event(s).

Causes of Emotional or Psychological Trauma

An event can lead to emotional or psychological trauma if:

  • It happened unexpectedly
  • You were unprepared for it
  • You felt powerless to prevent it
  • It happened repeatedly
  • Someone was intentionally cruel
  • You felt severely embarrassed
  • You were physically, sexually or emotionally hurt

Symptoms of Trauma

Trauma develops differently from person to person. While  often the symptoms  develop in the hours or days following the traumatic event, it can sometimes take weeks, months, or even years before they appear.

  • Intrusive, upsetting memories of the event
  • Flashbacks (acting or feeling like the event is happening again)
  • Nightmares (either of the event or of other frightening things)
  • Feelings of intense distress when reminded of the trauma
  • Intense physical reactions to reminders of the event (e.g. pounding heart, rapid breathing, nausea, muscle tension, sweating)
  • Avoiding activities, places, thoughts, or feelings that remind you of the trauma
  • Inability to remember important aspects of the trauma
  • Loss of interest in activities and life in general
  • Feeling detached from others and emotionally numb
  • Sense of a limited future (you don’t expect to live a normal life span, get married, have a career)
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Irritability or outbursts of anger
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Hypervigilance (on constant “red alert”)
  • Feeling jumpy and easily startled
  • Guilt, shame or self-blame
  • Substance abuse
  • Feelings of mistrust and betrayal
  • Depression and hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts and feelings
  • Feeling alienated and alone
  • Aches and pains that are unexplained