Drug and Alcohol Counselling

What is trauma?

Psychological trauma is a response to an event that a person finds highly stressful. Usually there has been an actual or perceived risk of death or serious injury or illness to someone. We refer to such serious life events here as critical incidents.

 

Not everyone who experiences a critical incident will develop trauma.

 

There are different types of trauma including:

 

  • Acute trauma: that results from a single stressful or dangerous event.

  • Chronic trauma: that results from repeated and prolonged exposure to highly stressful events. Examples include cases of child abuse, bullying, domestic violence and working in emergency services.

  • Complex trauma: that results from exposure to multiple traumatic events or trauma involving highly unusual circumstances.

  • Secondary trauma, or vicarious trauma: which involves trauma resulting from being exposed to the details and experiences of someone who has experienced a traumatic event.

  • Intergenerational trauma: which involves trauma that is ‘inherited’ by children. Intergenerational trauma can be very subtle and not obvious to family members.

Trauma can have long-term effects on our well-being. If symptoms persist and do not decrease in severity over time, it can indicate the trauma has developed into a mental health disorder called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Signs and symptoms of trauma

Although the experience of depression will vary from person to person, feeling sadness, emptiness, and have a low mood are common symptoms. Other common symptoms of depression include:

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Image by Silas Baisch

We have to face what we fear to conquer it.

What causes trauma?

Critical incidents include, but are not limited to:

Some factors that might place a person at a higher risk of developing PTSD include:

  • History of Abuse: People with a history of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse tend to be more susceptible to PTSD. 

  • Previous Traumatic Experiences: People who have experienced a previous trauma are more susceptible to PTSD . The stress of the trauma can have a cumulative effect. New traumatic experience can exacerbate previous trauma. This is especially true for those with early and longer-lasting childhood trauma.

  • Family History: People with a family history of PTSD, depression and/or mental health issues tend to be more susceptible to PTSD. 

  • History of Substance Abuse: Substance use might interfere with a person's ability to cope with the added stress of a traumatic event or exacerbate the trauma.

  • Limited Coping Skills: Coping skills and the level of psychological functioning can play a role in a person’s susceptibility to PTSD. Some people might feel they have little sense of control over their circumstances or blame themselves for the trauma.

  • Lack of Social Support: Positive social and family relationships can help moderate the effects of stress and trauma. Conversely, people who lack supportive relationships and environments tend to be more vulnerable to stress and PTSD after experiencing trauma. A social environment that produces guilt, shame, stigmatization, or self-blame also increases the risk.

  • Ongoing Stress: The effects of extreme or ongoing stress on a person can result in extensive physical and psychological problems. This can reduce the ability to cope with trauma, therefore increasing the risk of PTSD

Trauma treatments that help

There are many effective psychological treatments for trauma. Some specialised forms of psychological intervention are more effective than general supportive counselling as they address current issues and symptoms. 

Firstly, it is important to ensure that you are engaging in trauma informed care. Engaging in therapy in which the therapist is not trained to manage trauma can make their condition worse.

  • Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT): CPT allows for cognitive activation of the memory, while identifying maladaptive cognitions (assimilated and over-accommodated beliefs) that have derived from the traumatic event. The main aim of CPT is to shift beliefs towards accommodation

  • Prolonged Exposure: includes psychoeducation about PTSD and common reactions to trauma, breathing retraining, and two types of exposure: in vivo exposure and imaginal exposure.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for PTSD: Trauma-focused CBT typically includes both:

    • Behavioral techniques, such as exposure. CBT that includes exposure to the traumatic memory uses imaginal exposure, writing the traumatic narrative, or reading the traumatic memory out loud.

    • Cognitive techniques, such as cognitive restructuring. Cognitive restructuring focuses on teaching patients to identify erroneous thoughts, find rational alternative thoughts, and review beliefs about themselves, the trauma, and the world.

At iflow psychology we use an integrative approach drawing on various therapeutic models and tailor treatment to each individual’s needs. We teach a set of basic tools to enhance relaxation and quality of life as a foundation while simultaneously working on presenting issues. We promote engagement in activities that involve ‘flow’ states to assist in achieving an optimal life style and quality of life.

In addition to the above psychological techniques, making simple changes to a person’s lifestyle can help with depression. Lifestyle changes can include:

  • Regular exercise,

  • Reducing or giving up alcohol and caffeine

  • Engaging in enjoyable activities

  • Improving skills in managing time

  • Having adequate sleep.

How a trauma Psychologist can help

Our trauma psychologists will ask some questions about your history, circumstances, thoughts, feelings and behaviours. We might also use questionnaires to gather more information.

 

Together, we work towards an understanding of factors that contribute to your difficulties. A treatment plan is developed between the client and the psychologist. The psychologist will use an integrative approach including mindfulness and relaxation to help enhance mood and quality of life.

Through the process of depression counselling, the psychologist can also assist making lifestyle changes to enhance resilience to cope better and reduce symptoms of trauma.

When to access our trauma counselling services?

Witnessing, or experiencing, a critical incident can cause very strong reactions in some people. These reactions can be acute or chronic.

Some people might be significantly affected by a witnessing a traumatic event and need urgent psychological mental health triaging to ensure their safety.

While most people will experience a range of symptoms those symptoms should naturally resolve over four to six weeks.

Seek professional help if you:

  • Are experiencing arguments or loss of relationships

  • Are feeling overwhelmed and not coping,

  • Cannot function normally,

  • Cannot return to work or manage responsibilities,

  • Continue to have disturbed sleep or nightmares

  • Feel an increased need to use substances

  • Feel like you are at risk,

  • Feel like you cannot manage intense feelings or physical reactions,

  • Feel numb or empty

  • Have no social support,

  • Keep going over the events of the traumatic incident

  • Keep reliving the traumatic experience

  • Symptoms are getting worse over days or weeks

 

iflow psychology trauma counselling services can assist. Just call contact us or book an appointment online using the buttons below.

You can also claim a partial rebate from Medicare for up to twenty sessions per calendar year. If you would like to claim the rebate then ask your treating doctor to provide a referral and Mental Health Plan.

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