Is Trauma the Same for Everyone?

Trauma - Sad Man

Trauma in psychological terms means that the mind has been exposed to a level of stress beyond what it can cope with. It happens to people of all ages, and for all sorts of different reasons. So it makes sense that not everybody experiences trauma in the same way.

Sometimes trauma is the result of one distressing event, or it can be the cumulative effect of an overwhelming amount of stress. Generally, it happens because an individual’s life, safety or security is threatened.

Some events that can result in trauma include domestic violence, car accidents, being the victim of crime or kidnapping, the loss of a loved one, bullying, living through war or being exposed to intrusive medical procedures.

As you can see, the nature of the event can vary considerably. There is no valid or invalid response to a traumatic event.

What Effects Trauma?

It is impossible to gauge or predict trauma based on the facts of an event itself. Trauma isn’t dictated by what happened, but by how the individual experienced the event and, very importantly, processed it afterward.

How your mind deals with the trauma of the event will affect the extent to which you are traumatised. You can also be affected by how unexpected the event was and how unprepared for it you were.

If you felt more alone, or if the event occurred during childhood, this will also affect your experience. There is also a range of other contributing factors, including how cruel the event was, if the event was repeated, how much loss you sustained and how responsible you perceive yourself to be.

It is very common for a person who experienced trauma to blame themselves, either for the event, or for their reaction to the event. This blame makes the suffering worse.

Sometimes we show the signs of trauma immediately after the event occurs, while for other people the signs may not show up for many years. Sometimes people repress the traumatic experience and may not even remember that it happened.

There are similar symptoms and effects of trauma, however, and many people respond to the same kinds of treatments.

Symptoms of Trauma

Some of the most commons symptoms of trauma include:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Anger
  • Constant fear
  • Triggers or re-awakened memories that affect emotional responses
  • Avoidance of people and places
  • Flashbacks of the event
  • Self-harm
  • Insomnia or nightmares
  • Self-medication with alcohol or drugs
  • Easily startled and on edge
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Physical symptoms, such as headaches, muscle tension and vomiting
  • Emotional detachment and low self-esteem.

Trauma is a complex condition because it is so different for each individual. Treatments that have the best results include psychotherapy and sensorimotor therapy. Some alternative therapies and relaxation skills can also provide help and some people respond well to medication.

Further Information

If any of these symptoms sound familiar, or you need help to deal with a traumatic event, reach out to the friendly, caring team at Perth Counselling and Psychotherapy. We’re always happy to help and provide compassionate, healing trauma counselling.

Online Counselling Handy Hints

Female client using laptop for online counselling

Adapting to our dynamic world is certainly presenting new challenges for all of us.

The transition to online counselling for most people has been sudden and a necessity, rather than a preferred mode for counselling. Online counselling is not for everyone and may not suit some issues or people.

For this reason, I recommend that you try at least 3 online sessions before deciding if it suits you.

We’ve put together a few suggestions that might help you get the most out of your online counselling experience and make it as comfortable as possible.

  1. Ensure you are in a private space

    This might sound fairly easy, but if you have children, it may be quite challenging. Some clients sit in their car, others will schedule the session when another parent or carer can be available to help them carve out some private space. You are welcome to negotiate with me for a time that suits you. I have some flexibility across my working days of Wednesday to Saturday each week.

  2. Make sure you have confirmed with me which platform you are using

    I use one of three platforms: professional Zoom, Skype or Facetime.

  3. Try using a headset, ear phones or ear pods

    Using a headset, ear phone or ear pods can significantly reduce distracting background noise and enable all parties to hear each other better.

  4. Have your facial features well lit

    I can see you better and you will see me clearly by placing any lighting in front of you. This way your face is illuminated well. Any lighting behind you, such as open curtains, open doors, or any sort of electrical or other light will make you dark. It is then difficult to see your facial features.

  5. Good connection to the internet

    While a good internet connect is mostly out of your control, you can do a few things to assist. Be as close as possible to your modem or Wi-Fi port; limit other family members being online whilst your session is in progress; use a device that you know works well with your Wi-Fi. If your Wi-Fi connection is not great, you may want to consider using mobile data. In these instances, please check that you have enough data to undertake the online call. I cannot take responsibility for any disruption to the call due to poor internet speeds. I make all reasonable efforts ensure I have a reliable internet connection when undertaking sessions.

  6. Chose the right device

    Your tablet, laptop or PC are best. However, phones can be used. Tablets are best used in portrait mode. Make sure you do not need to hold your device. This way, your hands are free to move as you talk and you can adjust your position comfortably without me having to look up your nose, at the ceiling or at another part of your space you may prefer to keep private. If you use your phone, turn off notifications. This way, you won’t be interrupted during your session. Please consider sending all calls automatically to message bank.

  7. Couples sessions

    These can be successfully managed in a couple of ways:
    1. Both people are seated next to each other and need to be able to turn and face each other easily so a dialogue can be facilitated. It is best to use a laptop or tablet for this type of session.
    2. Both people use their own device, are in a different room (or even a different location) and connect in using Zoom (preferred platform). Being physically located in another space is important to reduce feedback noise.

  8. Home isolation and issues for counselling

    Some people like to bring an issue or topic to the session and may worry working from home or being socially distanced will impact this. Please be reassured you started counselling for a reason and that reason is still present, whether you are working at home or in the work-place. In session issues will make themselves known to you. I have never had a client sit for a full session with nothing to say.

Allow a few sessions to see if online counselling is meeting your needs or not. Talk to me so we can see what we can do together to support you during this time of social distancing and isolating for health reasons.

Self awareness, choice and less judgement

More than a few months ago I was motivated and consistent with following the 5 and 2 way of eating. I was losing weight, feeling better, had more clothes to choose from, and that was just inside my own wardrobe!!

What happened? My daughter became pregnant and bought a house, I married my long term partner, I became a grandmother recently, I had some issues I had to resolve……….in other words, life is what happened!

The difference for me from any other time in my life when I have started something and then stopped is that I am giving myself permission to NOT do it. In this permission giving I have reduced the pressure I put on myself to get back to this way of eating. It will happen again, I know this as I believe in the science behind this diet and know it is something I can do without depriving myself and then feeling resentful. I have done it before so I know I can do it again.

Some weeks I have started again, I have done the first day of 500 calories fasting, then find I am not up to doing this the 2nd day that week. So I only do the one day and I am fine with this, in fact I say to myself, ” well done, you did a day”.

So what is the big deal about this? Firstly it means I have been able to stop a lot of the negative thoughts about what in the past I judged as my own weakness or lack of willpower. I accept what I can do and am not giving my self a hard time for not doing more. I am enjoying this place of no guilt, it is liberating and gentle to me and I am loving that I can be this giving to myself.

The big question is, “How did I get here?” Self awareness is the simple answer, but it tells nothing of my journey involved to reach this place. At times gut wrenching but emotionally rewarding therapy, heart ache, love, experience. Everything that involves risk of some sort, risk of making a mistake, risk of being seen, risk of failure………not staying safely cocooned from life and the joys and heart aches it puts our way will put us on the path to self awareness and with this comes greater choices that can enrich and deepen our lives.

So for me, right now, it has been about the 5 and 2 diet. The wonderful thing about self awareness is that it works across my entire life: I have greater understanding of my self in relation to others and their impact on me; I have clearer insight to my responses in certain situations and take responsibility for them, rather than blame the other person. On it goes.

If you are interested in achieving self awareness and having more control over decisions and choices you make, call for an appointment on 0458 677 108.

Perth Counselling and Psychotherapy Logo

As restrictions surrounding COVID-19 begin to ease in Western Australia, Perth Counselling and Psychotherapy is once again offering face-to-face sessions, in addition to online sessions. For those of you visiting us in-person, rest assured that we are strictly following social distancing regulations and will not have any physical contact with clients. If you have any questions, please contact your therapist for more information.