Sometimes bad things happen and life throws you a curveball. Something happens that you just didn’t see coming and leaves you feeling filled with terror. You wonder how you’re going to survive this and all you want to do is run away and hide. Or maybe the opposite. Maybe it triggers something inside you that puts you in “fight” mode and you’re just filled with anger. Either way, you are having a trauma response and your body is responding in exactly the way we expect it to.
But now you’re tired of feeling this way. The stressful situation that initially threw you off is over now. Logically, you know you are safe now. But you still don’t feel like yourself. You’re jumpy most of the time. Horrible memories come up out of nowhere and it’s like you’re right back in that traumatic moment. Sometimes something you see out of the corner of your eye or some news story can cause you a moment of panic and leave you feeling “off.” And sometimes you have to find the energy just to make it through the day.
What Counts as Trauma?
You may be wondering if what you went through even counts as “trauma.” You know it was stressful, but you may tell yourself, “Others have been through worse.” The truth is that you wonder why you can’t just “move on” already.
Whilst people often think of war and rape as being traumatic, there are many types of stressful events your brain may experience as being traumatic. Essentially, trauma is any experience that overwhelms your ability to cope and causes you to feel shock, horror, terror, helplessness and/or hopelessness.
Trauma comes in many forms
When people think of trauma, they often think of what professionals call “Big T trauma.” This is a major event that happened once directly to you, such as a rape or a house fire you narrowly escaped. However, trauma can also be more indirect, something that happens over long periods of time and be part of someone’s developmental experience. This less direct type of trauma is sometimes called, “little t trauma” and often gets overlooked. However, little t trauma can cause pain just as significant as Big T trauma.
Direct Trauma: When something happens to you personally
Direct Trauma refers to any extremely stressful experience that happens directly to you. There are many different types of direct trauma. You may experience a one time trauma directly such as a house fire, natural disaster, accident, incident of assault or robbery. On the other hand, some people experience long-term, developmental trauma: physical, verbal, emotional, sexual abuse in childhood, or domestic violence where you feel unsafe in your romantic relationships. This type of extended trauma that happens over a longer period of time often leads to what professionals call Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD). Additionally, some deaths can be traumatic for survivors. Some people also experience PTSD symptoms due to traumatic grief after the loss of a loved one to suicide, homicide, or even witnessing a person die by heart attack.
Lastly, you can be traumatised by traumatic situations you’ve experienced as a child. This includes witnessing your parents feuding, witnessing a parent who struggled with substance abuse with drinking or taking drugs, or taking care of someone with a long-term illness.
Indirect Trauma: When you are impacted by someone else’s trauma
Indirect Trauma is when you are impacted by someone else’s traumatic experience. As human beings, we are caring creatures. Therefore, it makes sense that you empathise with the pain of others. When someone else hurts, you may hurt too. There are many different ways you can experience indirect trauma. For instance, a mother may be traumatised hearing about a terrible car accident her adult child was in. Perhaps you find yourself double and triple checking the locks on your door after hearing about a burglary a few miles away. Sometimes, a person is even impacted by a trauma that happened in the larger community. For instance, you may feel on edge after watching news coverage of a terrible terrorist attack.
Secondary or Vicarious Trauma in the Helping Professions
You got into this field because you care about what you do. You want to help people. But now you feel tired. You’ve seen it all. Sometimes, you think you’re just more of a “realist” now than you used to be. Perhaps you’ve noticed that you dread going to work, feel more easily overwhelmed or are less productive. The job doesn’t seem fun or exciting anymore. It’s as if you’re just going through the motions.
Most helping professionals go through this at one point in their career. These feelings are often caused by having witnessed so much pain in those you are helping and can be called indirect trauma. Indirect trauma is often referred to as secondary trauma or vicarious trauma.
Helping professionals such as counsellors, social workers, nurses or doctors see the pain of others on a daily basis. Occasionally, the pain you’ve witnessed in others may leave a lasting impact on you. In fact, burnout can happen to even the most seasoned professional. That’s when compassion fatigue can creep in. It’s important to treat this secondary trauma. Through attending counselling, you as a helping professional, can begin to enjoy your job again.
In addition to treating direct and indirect trauma, I also offer specialised counselling for stress and burnout that may be a fit for you. Just because you are feeling discouraged and dreading work right now doesn’t mean you hate your job. Rather, you are likely experiencing compassion fatigue due to secondary trauma. I would love to help you get back to loving your job.
Trauma can be hard for the brain to process
Traumatic experiences are so far out of what your brain considers to be “normal” that it can be hard to make sense of the thoughts, feelings and sensations that come up during and after the actual traumatic event. Whether you’ve directly experienced the traumatic experience or are experiencing secondary trauma, these experiences can be deeply traumatising. They leave a vivid, unshakeable mark in your memory for a very long time.
Trauma can come from many different parts of your life. However, the common experience is that your core assumptions about yourself, other people and the world around you are challenged. Your sense of security is threatened. Your brain holds onto the terrible experience trying to make sense of exactly what happened. It’s trying to figure out how it fits in with everything else you know about the world. The most stressful situations in a person’s life are often difficult to process without professional help.
What is Trauma Therapy?
Trauma Therapy addresses trauma that is current in your life or from the past. We may talk about a stressful situation that happened long ago, perhaps even in childhood. On the other hand, the trauma you need to process may be a single incident such as a recent assault. Trauma Therapy can even address long term, chronic trauma that you’ve experienced over a period of time.
Will My Trauma Symptoms Just Go Away?
Sometimes, trauma symptoms do go away on their own. However, it’s also very possible that they will get worse. In fact, not tending to your trauma can lead things getting worse. All of those feelings of fear, shock and horror may fester inside you. Eventually, these trauma symptoms can manifest into many physical problems as well as emotional problems.
Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Not everyone who experiences a traumatic event develops Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). However, PTSD is very common. If your trauma reactions are left untreated, you may develop symptoms of PTSD. Trauma Therapy can help you address trauma symptoms often before you develop PTSD. These symptoms can include:
- Recurrent and intrusive thoughts or memories of the event
- Nightmares or difficulty falling asleep
- Feeling like the stressful situation is happening all over again (flashbacks)
- Feeling really triggered or anxious when you are reminded of the traumatic situation (including physical reactions like quick breathing or sweating)
- Avoiding upsetting memories, thoughts or feelings related to the traumatic event
- Negative thoughts about yourself, others or the world around you
- Difficulty in remembering some parts of what happened to you
- Intense feelings of fear, anger, guilt or shame
- Getting angry more easily than usual
- Reckless or self-destructive behavior
- Feeling always on edge and/or easily startled
- Difficulty concentrating
What to Expect in Trauma Therapy
The first thing to know is that our trauma counselling sessions will be in a safe space. You will not be forced to say or do something you are not comfortable with. Some people enter counselling ready to speak about the trauma in detail and others need time to develop a relationship with me and gain skills to manage the intense emotions that can come up in Trauma Therapy.
A Therapist Who Meets You Where You Are
I approach Trauma Therapy from a relational or attachment perspective. This means that I focus on building a strong therapeutic relationship with you and meet you where you are. I emphasise building trust in our relationship. It is only when you feel safe and secure in the therapy space that you can do the difficult work of addressing the pain you are feeling. Together, we will explore your options for trauma treatment and find a path forward that meets your individual needs.
Building Strength & Resilience
An important component of Trauma Therapy or PTSD treatment is to help you build your own strength and sense of resilience. What you went through left you feeling less confident, less sure of yourself and more afraid than you used to be. You’ll have the opportunity to rediscover your own personal strength through our work together. You may learn specific, new coping skills you can use in future stressful situations. Through processing your emotions, you’ll develop new insights about yourself, your relationships and how you as an individual relate to the world. In Trauma Therapy, we do more than focus on your past experience. We also explore your present situation and how you can relate to the world differently in the future. Therefore, you’ll leave counselling better able to face whatever comes up in the next chapter of your life.
My counselling practice is a trauma-informed practice. This means that I am a trauma-sensitive therapist and I am careful to help you work at your own pace. I want to build a sense of trust and safety in our relationship and will not force you to share things you are not ready to share. In fact, many of my clients benefit from first using creative interventions such as Dramatherapy to work through past traumatic experiences without telling the story directly. Through Dramatherapy for instance, you have a chance to reframe your story in an indirect way. This type of indirect trauma work can be a cathartic experience that helps bring healing to your mind and body. You’re able to reframe the narrative of your own trauma story without some of the intensity you may experience in traditional talk therapy.
Who Benefits from Trauma Therapy
Anyone who has experienced something stressful, recently or in the distanct past, that overwhelmed their ability to cope can benefit from Trauma Therapy or PTSD treatment. I have helped individuals from all walks of life who have been impacted by trauma and are ready to move forward. I take a flexible, empowering approach to help meet your individual needs.
Trauma Therapy helps address:
- anxiety and depression
- difficulty trusting others
- feelings of hopelessness and/or helplessness
- nightmares or insomnia
- self-doubt, insecurity and fear
- self-harm and/or thoughts of suicide
Trauma Therapy helps you:
- feel like yourself again
- live more confidently
- move forward in the areas most important to you
Heal, Grow and Flourish with Trauma Therapy
Case Study – Darren’s Trauma Therapy Story
Darren is a man in his twenties who began therapy after coming out of rehab for drug and alcohol abuse. Darren experimented with drugs in his teens, however, his addiction grew stronger after leaving school when he lost touch with his friends. Eventually, Darren hit rock bottom after being contacted by his father who had been absent for most of his life. Overwhelmed and unable to cope with his emotions, Darren overdosed on drugs which nearly cost him his life. Darren sought help when life was getting out of control.
Darren has tried individual counselling before. In fact, he has tried various therapy groups at school including anger management and art therapy. Through therapy sessions, Darren dealt with his anger and hostility towards his teachers and peers. But he still struggled with symptoms of PTSD. Now, Darren came to counseling to work with a trauma specialist. We chose to use creative interventions to express his feelings and work through his past trauma, because of his previous experiences using art in therapy. In the sessions, Darren had the freedom to create art work and stories about his situation. Working in this way felt safer for Darren.
Through Trauma Therapy, Darren found healing
After some time, Darren developed a greater ability to reflect on his own experiences and courage to speak directly about his past and how growing up without his father had affected him. Working in therapy helped Darren realise the impact his father’s absence had on his self-esteem and self-worth. He grew to understand that his experience of neglect and abandonment traumatised him for several years, and that he found it difficult to trust people because he didn’t want to grow attached to anyone in case he felt hurt by them. Darren finally understood why he used drugs and alcohol to cope with his experience of childhood trauma.
Darren’s commitment to recovery has helped turn his life around. Since seeking ongoing support Darren stayed clean without relapsing. Darren is now feeling less fearful and more open to welcoming a relationship with his father as an adult.
Just like Darren, Trauma Therapy can help you:
- Develop greater self-awareness
- Gain insight into your thoughts, feelings and behaviour
- Recover from childhood trauma and make peace with your past
- Learn healthier and safer ways of coping
*Please note: The name and details have been changed and altered to protect the client’s identity. The photograph is for illustrative purposes only and does not identify any clients.
Call Today for Trauma and PTSD Treatment in London
You too can recover from your past trauma like Darren did through Trauma Therapy. I know it can feel scary to reach out and open up. However, you deserve the healing that can come from Trauma Therapy and PTSD treatment. If you live in London and are ready to experience a deep level of healing and to feel like yourself, I am here to help. When you are ready to begin, follow these three simple steps:
- Schedule your free, 20-minute phone consultation.
- Work with a skilled trauma counsellor.
- Find a new sense of healing, confidence & wholeness.
Other Services Available at YTherapy
At YTherapy, I provide help for a variety of mental health issues at my counselling offices in Angel and Farringdon, Central London. I enjoy helping individuals from all walks of life, including: first responders, other counsellors and therapists, and healthcare professionals. Whether you are dealing with trauma or PTSD, stress and burnout, relationship problems or just about any other mental health concern, I would love to assist you in being the very best version of yourself! Contact me today to schedule a free call. Set your mind free and be more at ease with your everyday surroundings and with yourself.