Trauma can occur as a result of many situations that are extremely upsetting and overwhelming to a person. Threats to a person’s physical or psychological self may be equally traumatic. Some examples of potentially traumatic events include sexual assault, physical assault, abuse, robbery, disasters, accidents, combat, or life-threatening illnesses. As well, “smaller” traumas can include things such as bullying, shaming moments, and break ups. Each experience is individual and a small trauma can be just as upsetting and overwhelming to a person as a large trauma might be.
Someone who has experienced a trauma may organize their life around repeating patterns of re-experiencing traumatic memories and triggers. When one is traumatized, the familiar ideas about self and the world are disrupted and changed. Some of the common reactions to trauma may include anxiety, nervousness, depression, nightmares, insomnia, anger, flashbacks, distraction, memory problems, or decrease in self-esteem. In addition, a person may turn to self-destructive coping mechanisms due to overwhelming emotions and memories.
During the counselling process, I assist clients to address the emotions, thoughts and fears surrounding the trauma. As well, there is a focus on what steps are necessary to move forward. Coping strategies, relaxation training, addressing negative thoughts and beliefs, decreasing symptoms of depression and anxiety, and emotional regulation are some of the areas that I focus on in treatment with clients who have experienced trauma. EMDR is also an option for someone who has been through a traumatic event.