Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) & Trauma Counselling
The term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD for short) was first coined following the Vietnam war as a term to describe the reactions experienced by some veterans returning from the conflict.
Now, however, PTSD is used widely to describe the symptoms that can be experienced when you either witness, or are involved in a terrifying, stressful or distressing event. It is used in its very literal sense to describe the stress that follows trauma.
It may be that these trauma symptoms appear soon after the event, or it may be that you start to develop the symptoms much later (even years) afterwards. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Trauma Counselling seeks to explore your emotional and physical reactions to the event, and find ways of helping you to process what has happened to you, and cope with any reactions that you may be having, so that the trauma moves from being a current problem, to a memory.
What are the symptoms of PTSD?
No two people will ever react in the same way, even if they have witnessed or experienced the same terrifying or distressing event … we all process our experiences differently and uniquely and so our responses and reactions will be unique too. There are almost unlimited responses both emotional and physical, when you are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder however:
You may experience some or all the following:
- Vivid flashbacks (where you feel as though the trauma is happening again)
- Nightmares, that may be related to the event or seemingly completely unrelated
- Intrusive thoughts and images
- Disturbed Sleep
- Anger, irritability, outbursts, aggressive behaviours
- Extreme alertness, constantly feeling “ready for anything”, being easily startled
- Or the opposite to this, feeling extremely detached and numb
- Avoiding things that remind you of the trauma, tying to keep busy to avoid it, repressing memories
- Self-destructive behaviours
- Intense distress at any real or imagined memory or reminder of the trauma
- Physical symptoms such as sweating, dizziness, pain
- Experience depression and / or anxiety
- Have suicidal thoughts and feelings
What Causes PTSD?
There are lots of different events that can cause PTSD. As with many conditions connected to our mental health, what one individual may find traumatic another will not, and vice versa. Some individuals may experience no PTSD symptoms whatsoever after experiencing a traumatic event. We are all different and we all cope and react in a variety of ways.
Some common scenarios that give rise to trauma symptoms are:
- An accident such as a crash
- Being attacked in some way
- A bereavement
- Personal assaults such as; sexual assault, rape, mugging, bullying, robbery
- Prolonged abuse
- Surviving or being witness to a terrorist attack
- Seeing someone else hurt or killed
- Returning from a conflict zone, experiencing war or violence
- Being kidnapped or held hostage
- Going through a traumatic birth or witnessing a traumatic birth
- Being a part of a natural disaster such as an earthquake, tsunami or avalanche
How Can Counselling Help with PTSD and Trauma?
Counselling provides a safe, soothing and confidential space where you can begin to discuss and understand the trauma experience or experiences you have had. It is also a space where you can begin to explore the physical / bodily reactions that the trauma may be causing you. If you are having these reactions, a cognitive-behavioural form of counselling can provide practical help and strategies for managing symptoms such as flashbacks, panic attacks and nightmares and provide you with the tools to manage these reactions yourself.
Are you worried or even frightened of ‘revisiting’ the event that caused the PTSD?
Quite naturally you may have tried to banish the memory of the devastating, terrifying or distressing event and the thought of attending Trauma Counselling worries you and causes you to feel stress and upset at the thought of having to ‘relive’ it all over again.
The reality is that, in your attempt to try to forget what happened, the trauma continues to be a presence in your life. The symptoms you are experiencing are a way of your body and mind telling you that you have not processed what has happened. Counselling has a way of approaching the Trauma or the PTSD symptoms that will gently explore what is going on for you and work on how you respond to your emotional and physical responses. This will help turn the trauma from a current problem into a memory.
It is very important to know is that:
- Counselling will never rush you. You will explore the traumatic event(s) in your own time.
- You will work at a speed that feels comfortable for you
- Counselling is not a process that seeks to re-traumatise you
- Counselling will also make sure you are not left with feelings that you do not know how to manage or cope with.
This PDF explains how counselling processes trauma using a clear diagram:
(click the image to bring up the full size document)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Trauma Counselling with Rachel
If you would like to discuss Counselling for Trauma and managing the symptoms of PTSD then take the first step and contact Rachel
Some Helpful Articles & Resources on PTSD & Coping With Trauma