Effects of Trauma
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Gail Evans BASRT Accred UKCP Reg. B.Sc M.Sc. CQSW CertCC, Dip PST
14th August, 2007
The word trauma might conjure up major disaster or emergency, but it also can be the result of smaller events, especially repeated experiences, which have a stressful and damaging effect on us, for example bullying or a series of difficult life events.
Many people get over traumas by themselves and with the support of friends, family or a good health professional. Some people find it hard to recover and get left with troublesome symptoms like sleep and eating disturbances, flashbacks, nightmares, panic attacks, social anxiety and social phobia, loss of confidence in themselves and in the future.
The traumatic events which leave a mark tend to have made us feel powerless and ineffective and often ashamed (of how we acted or didn't act and how we felt during the events and of our feelings after the event). This will be made worse if the person has lacked support and the opportunity to talk it out, releasing feelings, or has been made to feel they are abnormal because of their reactions. The person who has been vulnerable for some reason before the traumatic event(s) or have had to stay strong to support other people is more likely to find it harder to recover from a traumatic event.
Trauma responses get locked within us when the body's natural ways of dealing with trauma are blocked. The traumatic experience(s) can include so much sensory information that the normal ways we have of processing events (talking and dreaming) can't cope and the system shuts down, leaving emotions and sensations locked in the body.
Body and emotional responses often become attached to particular sounds, smells, touches etc so that when those sounds, smells, touches are experienced in the present it triggers the trauma-response from the past (panic, sweating, intense fear and so on). These reactions feel as though they are uncontrollable.
The good news is that people can be helped to reduce or eliminate their troublesome symptoms using one or more of a variety of straightforward methods.
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