Trauma is a complex and often misunderstood issue that affects millions of people around the world. Whether caused by a single incident or ongoing experiences, trauma can have a profound impact on a person's mental and physical well-being.


Trauma can be defined as an event or series of events that are overwhelming and can result in physical, emotional, and psychological injury. It can be caused by many different kinds of events, including physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, natural disasters, accidents, war, and more.

The symptoms of trauma can vary from person to person but can include nightmares, flashbacks, hypervigilance, irritability, negative self-perception, numbing of emotions, and avoidance of people or places that remind the person of the traumatic event. Anxiety and depression may also be experienced, but generally speaking, the earlier the traumatic experience, the more damaging is its psychological legacy and the more difficult it is to resolve.

One of the most significant impacts of trauma is the effect it can have on a person's mental well-being. Trauma can lead to conditions such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders, depression, and more. These conditions can make it difficult for individuals to function in daily life, leading to a range of difficulties, including difficulty sleeping, difficulty concentrating, and difficulty managing emotions, especially anger, and fear.  

It often results in relationship difficulties, problems with holding down employment, and sometimes criminal behaviour. A research study published on the University of Salford’s USIR website in 2020 showed that up to half of the prison population, and more women than men, had PTSD. 

Trauma can also have an impact on a person's physical health. Individuals who have experienced trauma may be more likely to experience chronic pain, headaches, and other medically unexplained physical symptoms. If not treated successfully, the chronic effects of trauma can also lead to changes in the immune system, making it more difficult for individuals to fight off illnesses and causing or exacerbating conditions such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, or fibromyalgia.

While the effects of trauma can be significant, there are treatments available that can help individuals manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. One of the most effective treatments for trauma is psychotherapy. This can provide individuals with a safe and supportive environment to process their experiences and develop coping strategies.

Where are many different types of therapy available for individuals who have experienced trauma, these include trauma-focused cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), and Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) these two are recommended for the treatment of PTSD by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), but some trauma is resistant even to these treatments and other therapies are needed to attempt to resolve it. Each type of therapy can be tailored to meet the specific needs of the individual.

In addition to psychological therapy, other treatments such as neurofeedback (a relatively new treatment in this field, using EEG biofeedback to train the brain to regulate itself and reduce the dysrhythmias associated with the symptoms of trauma in the brain,) medication, and self-care practices can be helpful in managing the symptoms of trauma. Medication can also be used to treat conditions such as anxiety and depression, while self-care practices such as exercise, meditation, and spending time with loved ones can help individuals manage alleviate some of their symptoms and improve their overall well-being.

Trauma is a complex condition that can have a profound impact on a person's mental, physical, and social well-being. While the effects of trauma can be significant, there are treatments available that can resolve the trauma for some, or help others to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. If you or someone you know has experienced trauma, it is important to seek help from a qualified professional. With the right support and treatment, it is possible for a person who has been affected by trauma to live a peaceful, meaningful, and enjoyable life.

How can psychotherapy help treat trauma? 

Trauma can be a deeply distressing experience that can affect an individual's physical, social, emotional, and mental well-being. Seeking help from a professional therapist can be an effective way to address the impact of trauma on one's life. Here are some ways psychotherapy can help in treating trauma:

  • Creating a safe space: A skilled therapist will create a safe and non-judgmental environment that allows the individual to explore their feelings and experiences related to the trauma. This provides a foundation for building trust and working through difficult emotions.
  • Developing coping skills: The therapist will work with the individual to develop coping skills to manage distressing emotions and reduce the impact of the trauma. These skills can include deep breathing exercises, imaginary places of safety, mindfulness techniques, and other relaxation techniques.
  • Processing the trauma: Therapy provides an opportunity to process the traumatic experience and explore its impact on one's life. The therapist can help the individual identify negative beliefs and emotions related to the trauma and work towards resolving them.
  • Identifying triggers: The therapist can assist the individual in identifying triggers that cause distress and help them develop strategies to manage these triggers when they arise. This can help the individual feel more in control of their emotions and reactions.
  • Building resilience: Through therapy, the individual can build resilience and develop a sense of empowerment in their ability to manage the impact of the trauma. The therapist can help the individual identify their strengths and develop a plan for moving forward in a positive way.

It is important to note that trauma therapy is a process that can take time and patience. It is essential to find a therapist who specialises in trauma and has experience working with traumatised clients.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1
Written by David Peak
Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1

David Peak has over 20 years experience in the field of psychological therapy and constantly strives to improve his knowledge and skills, the better to help his clients overcome the mental distress that some life events can cause them.

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