Understanding Trauma Counselling

At Life Counsel, we assist our clients with understanding trauma counselling. 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 there is no one shoe fits all. A certain experience can trigger a traumatic response for one person but may not for another, thus it is important to remain vigilant of presenting behavioural abnormalities and not expect everyone to react the same to traumatic experiences.

Trauma Counselling

The traumatic response can be triggered by violent crimes such as hijacking, rape, family abuse, a serious car accident and even a chronic illness, with thoughts often becoming consumed by the traumatic incident. Presenting symptoms can range from mild to severe and often 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 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 and psychiatrist, however, you can receive mental health intervention by any mental health practitioner registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) to administer such care.

Trauma Counselling

With differing degrees of severity in PTSD, it is important to have an intervention plan that is catered to each individual or group and their needs, thus there is no one set out the procedure for conducting trauma counselling. But as a mental health practitioner, one is guided by agreed-upon goals therefore making the clients active participants in the formulation goals for their intervention process which seeks to regulate emotions and help in their ability to trust again.

A reported estimation of at least 5 million people, which is 10 per cent of the South African population have been affected by PTSD as reported by The South African College of Applied Psychology. It is clear that the effects of PTSD are far-reaching and can have economic impacts beyond the individual and community. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group has reported that medical and behavioural problems related to trauma amount to expenses of approximately 40 billion a year.

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 counselling as a way of dealing with emotional fallouts related to any traumatic incidents, there are many public and private organizations that offer these services. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group offers such services amongst others. As a right enshrined in our South African constitution, it is every person’s right to receive healthcare and that includes mental health. It is your right to ask for trauma counselling from any health professional and their responsibility to offer such care should they be unable to offer the appropriate care, they then have to refer you to appropriate professionals or departments for the service.