In the face of an extremely distressing event, it is common for people to experience psychological trauma, which is a type of mental damage. They may have difficulty reorienting themselves in everyday life, may seem withdrawn or anxious, or experience a number of other mental and physical symptoms (PsychGuides.com).
Trauma counselling can help individuals who are attempting to cope with psychological trauma. It is an outlet for dialogue and a way to pursue healing, and even growth, following traumatic events. Trained counsellors are instrumental as guides and facilitators in this process.
Here is a guide to help students of counselling better understand this valuable service, which they may one day offer.
Before You Become a Counsellor, It’s Important to Know Trauma Can Happen to Anyone
One definition of trauma states that it is “the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless in a dangerous world” (Robinson, L., Smith, M., M.A., & Segal, J., Ph.D.). Accidents, ongoing stressors like illness, deeply humiliating events, and other sources of acute or lasting stress can all lead to trauma (Robinson, L., Smith, M., M.A., & Segal, J., Ph.D.). These situations can happen to virtually anyone, demonstrating that trauma is not a condition that is confined to a particular demographic.
Individuals With Trauma May Benefit From Holistic Approaches to Wellness
It is becoming understood that trauma recovery happens through addressing a number of important aspects of wellness. For example, the United States National Center for PTSD states that exercise can be a useful tool for those living with post-traumatic stress disorder. It notes that “Exercise may give you a break from difficult emotions. It may distract you from painful memories or worries. Perhaps most important, exercise can improve self-esteem. It may create feelings of personal control” (National Center for PTSD). In addition, talk therapy, somatic therapies and mental therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy all play a part in healing from Trauma.
Understanding how to help a client heal on several different fronts—including physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—is part of trauma therapy. Students in both the Wellness Counsellor Diploma and the Professional Counsellor Diploma at Rhodes Wellness College, learn how to provide trauma therapy for clients by learning to process their own “stuck” experiences.
In Your Counselling Career, You May Encounter Traumatized Individuals Without Apparent Symptoms
Trauma symptoms are not always apparent. Some people may be living with trauma, but don’t have any obvious physical manifestations of their distress such as anxiety attacks or depressive episodes. As a result, they are able to mask the inner turmoil they are facing but be suffering internally. According to experts, trauma can even be “virtually unnoticeable even to the victim’s closest friends and family.” It is in situations like this that outside help can be particularly valuable (PsychGuides.com).
Providing trauma therapy requires intensive training and experience. You can begin by becoming aware of symptoms of trauma and post-traumatic stress, such as flashbacks, relationship issues, and substance abuse. Trauma therapy requires that instead of asking “what’s wrong with you?, we ask “what happened to you?”
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National Center for PTSD. (2015, August 14). Lifestyle Changes Recommended for PTSD Patients. Retrieved July 5, 2017, from https://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/treatment/cope/coping-ptsd-lifestyle-changes.asp
PsychGuides.com. (n.d.). Trauma Symptoms, Causes and Effects. Retrieved July 5, 2017, from http://www.psychguides.com/guides/trauma-symptoms-causes-and-effects/
Robinson, L., Smith, M., M.A., & Segal, J., Ph.D. (2017, April). Emotional and Psychological Trauma. Retrieved July 5, 2017, from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/ptsd-trauma/coping-with-emotional-and-psychological-trauma.htm