Trauma, according to the South African College of Applied Psychology (SACAP), can be defined as a deep psychological wound that has a profound impact on the emotional wellbeing and everyday functioning of the sufferer. It can result from but is not limited to being a victim of violent crime, family abuse, hijacking, rape, and even chronic illness.
What does trauma look like?
There are long term consequences experienced by those with trauma, which can include:
These reactions to trauma can range from mild to severe, and persist for weeks, months, or even years, says the SACAP.
Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is a common result of trauma, and sufferers of the disorder may develop a particular set of problems in response to the traumatic event. These include:
The importance of trauma counselling
Without professional help, it’s incredibly difficult to address the after-effects of trauma which can go on indefinitely, says the SACAP. It’s also worth noting that trauma doesn’t only affect the person who experienced the traumatic incident, but those around them.
Parents experiencing trauma or PTSD may struggle to be emotionally available to their children. Partners may experience difficulty communicating or managing emotions and intimacy. In fact, entire family units and communities can be dramatically impacted by trauma; whether it’s the draining of resources such as time and money, or intergenerational trauma which can create a legacy of despair.
How does trauma counselling work?
The aim of trauma counselling is to assist individuals, families and even entire communities to find healthy ways to cope with the after-effects of their traumatic incident. While the SACAP says there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, the hope is that one will learn to regulate their strong emotions as well as develop their ability to trust. The role of the trauma counsellor is to provide sufferers with an empathetic setting in which they can talk about their experiences before developing strategies that will assist them in coping with and overcoming the long-term effects of the incident.
Don’t be afraid to reach out
If you’re in a position to get a trauma counsellor referral from your GP, it’s a good place to start. However, you can also:
Trauma’s ability to affect the sufferer indefinitely means there is nothing to lose by seeking assistance.