What is trauma?
Trauma is the emotional and psychological response that an individual experiences due to an intensely distressing event. One can experience trauma due to varying traumatic experiences, for example: losing a loved one, being involved in a car accident, experiencing abuse or violent assaults. Traumatic events can be difficult to define as they are viewed subjectively. Depending on an individual’s life experiences, resilience, and ability to process traumatic events, the same event may be deemed as more traumatic for some people compared to others. Since people experience trauma differently, psychologists have developed categories to show how traumatic reactions can fall on a wide spectrum.
Recognising the signs and symptoms of trauma
Individuals often experience shock and denial shortly after a traumatic event. However, with time, they may also experience the following symptoms: unpredictable emotions, anger, shame, sadness and despair that is long-lasting, intense feelings of guilt and self-blame, numbness, dissociation, feeling isolated and hopeless. Additionally, individuals may also experience flashbacks of the traumatic event, and also have physical symptoms such as nausea and headaches.
Therapy for trauma
It is possible to heal from emotional and psychological trauma and feel safe again. Stemming from this, there is no “one size fits all” approach to treating individuals. The most effective therapy caters to an individual’s symptoms, struggles, and considers their individual needs and tailors therapy accordingly. There are a number of different therapies to treat trauma, such as:
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) helps individuals identify their thoughts and beliefs around the traumatic experience and how to cope with emotional triggers in a healthy way.
Exposure Therapy is a type of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which helps individuals overcome their fears and emotional triggers associated with the trauma.
Talk therapy helps individuals work through painful emotions associated with traumatic experiences and helps them find adaptive ways of managing problems.