Trauma 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 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 (like suicide or the child death).

  • Secondary trauma, or vicarious trauma: which involves trauma resulting from being exposed to the experiences of someone else 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.


After a traumatic event, an early review and psychoeducation is recommended. This is to ensure that there is not an acute reaction that needs urgent attention to ensure your safety.


Trauma can have long-term effects on our well-being. Normally symptoms improve over time, particularly the first six to eight weeks. If symptoms are too severe, persist or get worse, you should consult a psychologist. Sometimes traumatic events can developed into a mental health disorder called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Signs and symptoms of trauma

The experience of trauma will vary between people. Common symptoms include feeling shocked, anxious, emotional and having recurrent thoughts of the event. Other common symptoms of trauma include:


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 can be more susceptible to PTSD. 

  • History of Substance Abuse: Substance use can interfere with a person's ability to process and cope with a traumatic event. It can also exacerbate trauma symptoms and compromise recovery.

  • Limited Coping Skills: Coping skills and your level of psychological functioning can play a role in your susceptibility to PTSD. Some people might feel they have no 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

Firstly, ensure that you are engaging in trauma informed care. Engaging in therapy in which the therapist is not trained to manage trauma can make your condition worse. is always best to use Registered mental health professionals such as psychologists. At iflow psychology all our psychologists are registered practitioners. 

There are many effective psychological treatments for trauma. Psychological therapy for trauma is more effective than general supportive counselling. Psychological techniques address symptoms and issues. 

  • Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT): CPT allows for cognitive activation of the traumatic memory. During this process you also identify maladaptive thoughts 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. This technique involves exposure to the traumatic memory. This can include the use of imagination, writing the traumatic narrative, or reading the traumatic memory out loud.

    • Cognitive techniques, such as cognitive restructuring. In cognitive restructuring, you learn to identify erroneous thoughts and find rational alternative thoughts. You will also be help to review beliefs about yourself, the trauma, and our world.

At iflow psychology we use an integrative approach drawing on various therapeutic models. We tailor treatments to your individual needs. You will learn a set of basic tools to enhance relaxation and quality of life. This provides a foundation while we continue to work on presenting issues. We also promote engagement in activities that involve ‘flow’ states. This is to assist you achieve 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. Psychological assessments allow us to obtain an objective measure of your symptoms.


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

Through the process of trauma counselling, your psychologist can help you make lifestyle changes. These lifestyle changes will enhance resilience, allowing you 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 are significantly affected by a witnessing a traumatic event. Those that have an acute reaction need an urgent psychological mental health review to ensure their safety. A review can also help minimise the impact of the event.

Most people will experience a range of symptoms. Symptoms will usually naturally resolve over four to six weeks.

Seek professional help if you experience any of the following issues:

  • Are experiencing arguments or loss of relationships,

  • Are feeling overwhelmed or not coping,

  • Cannot function normally,

  • Cannot return to work or manage your usual 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,

  • Experienced gaps in memory or start losing things,

  • Have no social support,

  • Keep going over the events of the traumatic incident,

  • Keep reliving the traumatic experience, or

  • Symptoms get 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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02 6061 1144

48 Norton Street

Leichhardt NSW 2040



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