Recovering From Trauma

Recovering from trauma is a journey that can take years to fully heal. Psychological trauma occurs when a distressing and overwhelming event destabilizes a person’s sense of emotional and physical safety. These types of events can be isolated incidents such as an accident, attack, or natural disaster. Other forms of trauma are ongoing such as bullying, domestic violence and life-threatening illnesses. Finally, there is complex trauma, which is when a person experiences multiple traumatic events, usually beginning in childhood.

Symptoms of Trauma

Woman doing yoga while the sun sets on a beach

  • Shock and denial
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Numbness and dissociation
  • Withdrawing from loved ones
  • Shame and self-blame
  • Challenges concentrating and feeling nervous or on edge
  • Nightmares
  • Experiencing flashbacks of the event(s)

Fight, Flight or Freeze

When your body and mind experience a traumatic event, it will go into a state of fight, flight or freeze to protect itself from danger. As the name’s suggest, ‘fight’ prepares your body to defend itself, ‘flight’ prepares your body to run, and ‘freeze’ is the evolutionary equivalent of playing dead and hoping the danger will pass. These responses are all normal and a sign of your body’s natural protection system. However, it is common for these protection mechanisms to become engrained so that your body goes into ‘survival mode’ with less and less distress. This is not your fault! You have survived something terrible and as a result, your body wants to make sure that you are hypervigilant so that it doesn’t happen again. However, experiencing the symptoms of trauma over time can take a toll on your relationships, health, and emotional well-being.

Counselling for Trauma

Counselling is a safe and supportive space to work through the trauma that you have experienced. It can feel daunting to confront or even just verbalize what happened. Your counsellor is aware of this and will not push you into a place that you don’t want to go. Counselling will go at your pace with full respect for your autonomy. You are in control here. When you are ready, your counsellor will gently help you to process the feelings you have regarding the traumatic event. They will provide strategies to manage the symptoms you are experiencing and deal with any triggers or flashbacks that come up. They will help you to rewrite the script so that when you are ready to confront memories, you are doing so from a place of empowerment and safety. Through your journey together, you will find healing, warmth, and compassion.

Strategies for HealingCourtney, Practice Manager, providing counselling services to one of her clients.

  1. Self-Regulation: Learning techniques such as deep breathing and grounding will allow you to manage and feel in control of ‘fight, flight and freeze’ responses.
  2. Community: Encouraging connection alongside meaning-making activities such as support groups or volunteering which increase sense of purpose.
  3. Health: Strategies regarding well-being and self-care which include mindfulness and balance for the body.

The courage and commitment that you put into counselling will renew a sense of empowerment within your life. Trauma may have taken away a feeling of control, but you can take it back. Reach out to book in with one of our warm, experienced counsellors here.