Trauma can be defined as a deep psychological wound triggered by traumatic experiences , it can have a profound and lingering effect on the emotional well-being ;everyday functioning of individuals and groups of individuals(e.g family), community and society at large.
When it comes to trauma and trauma counselling there is no “one size fits all” approach. A certain trauma experience may trigger a traumatic response for one person, but may not for another, thus it is important to remain vigilant of presenting behavioral abnormalities and not to expect everyone to react the same to traumatic experiences.
Traumatic response can be triggered by violent crimes such as hijacking, rape, family abuse; a serious car accident and even a chronic illness and thoughts often become consumed by the traumatic incident. Presenting symptoms can range from mild to severe and can present with reactions such as shock, confusion, numbness, depression and anxiety.
A psychological category that exists for diagnosing a traumatic response is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). As a psychological disorder it is important to get an appropriate assessment from a licensed mental health practitioner in order to get appropriate intervention. PTSD as a disorder can only be diagnosed by a clinical psychologist , psychiatrists or registered mental health counsellor.
With differing degrees of severity in PTSD it is important to have an intervention plan that is catered to each individual or group during trauma counselling and there is no one set procedure for conducting trauma counseling with a victim of trauma. However, as a mental health practitioner one is guided by agreed upon goals, therefore making the clients and active participants in the formulation goals for their intervention process which seeks to regulate emotions and help in their ability to trust again.
With a reported estimation of at least 5 million people, which is 10 percent of the South African population having been affected by PTSD as reported by The South African College of Applied Psychology. It is clear that the effects of trauma and PTSD are far reaching and can have economic impact beyond the individual and community. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group has reported that medical and behavioral problems related to trauma amount expenses of approximately 40 billion a year.
Some benefits of trauma counselling may include:
1. Establishing Coping Mechanisms
Trauma counseling is aimed at equipping the client with positive Coping skills, such as breathing exercises and relaxation techniques. These skills are essential in dealing with traumatic incidents. They are also helpful in dealing with everyday challenges that may cause stress or evoke emotional response.
2. Resolution in relation to the Trauma Incident
No matter the extent of a traumatic incident, the traumatic event can often vividly be recalled even years after the incident. The emotional and physical response of such recall can manifest itself physically through heart palpitations and flash-backs. Emotional manifestations can occur with mood-swings, memory loss and nightmares. The physical and psychological affects need to be resolved in order to recall the incident without the emotive connections. Resolution to the trauma assists in removing any Post Traumatic Stress Disorders and assists in processing the event in order to find closure.
3. Quality of Life
The detrimental affects of trauma is undeniable on the affects thereof on a person’s quality of life. Often our response to trauma can be subtle and individuals can go for long periods of time without resolving the effects of the trauma. Subtle effects of trauma can have negative effects on quality of life. Dealing with these subtle effects of trauma can improve an individual’s quality of life and help the patient regain trust again.
The effects of trauma on individuals, families, communities and society can lead to a deteriorated quality of life at all levels.It is important to always seek trauma counseling as a way of dealing with emotional fall-outs related to any traumatic incidents, there are many public and private organizations that offer these services. If you feel that you, a loved one or a family member have been affected by trauma and may need trauma counselling please contact us for assistance.
By Thobeka Myeza