Trauma

Studies show good health is all important

Unfortunately, most people are likely to experience a potentially traumatic event in their lifetime.  It is good to know that most individuals will recover well, given time and adequate social support.  However, for some individuals, the experience of a traumatic event, or chronic exposure to trauma, can trigger symptoms of a trauma-related disorder.

Probably the most commonly recognised trauma diagnosis is Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  This diagnosis refers to a set of symptoms that can emerge following the experience of a traumatic event that involves exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury or sexual violence.  Exposure to such events can be through either directly experiencing the trauma, witnessing in person the trauma happening to someone else, or learning that the event has happened to a close family member or friend.  Additionally, repeated or extreme exposure to the aftermath of trauma can also trigger symptoms (e.g. first responders to emergency situations).

Symptoms associated with PTSD are generally characterised by the following:

A sense of reliving the traumatic event

  • this might occur via unwanted and distressing thoughts or images, experiencing flashbacks, having nightmares, or feeling as though the event is recurring

Avoidance and numbing

  • active attempts to avoid people, please and activities that are associated with the traumatic event
  • feeling emotionally flat, losing interest in enjoyable activities, and feeling disconnected from family and friends

Negative thoughts and mood

  • persistent negative patterns of thinking about self, others and the world, experiencing distorted views about the causes and consequences of the traumatic event

Feeling agitated and ‘on edge’

  • feeling irritable, angry, overly-alert, or would up
  • experiencing difficulties concentrating
  • experiencing difficulties getting and/or staying asleep

A diagnosis of PTSD is generally made when these symptoms are present for more than one month, and are causing significant distress, or interfere with important areas of functioning such as work, or relationships.  It is noteworthy that without appropriate treatment, PTSD can become a chronic condition that places an individual at risk of developing other mental health problems such as depression, generalised anxiety or substance abuse issues.

Treatment

There are a range of psychological treatments available to support individuals who are experiencing symptoms of trauma.  Furthermore, research has demonstrated that with appropriate psychological interventions, the chances of recovery from trauma are good.  The two types of treatment that are most effective are called Trauma-Focussed Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (TF-CBT) and Eye-Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR).

Trauma-Focussed Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

In TF-CBT, the psychologist helps the person to confront memories and reminders of the trauma, change the way they think and feel about the traumatic experience, and find more helpful ways of coping through exposure therapy (imaginal and ‘real life’) as well as through a range of cognitive strategies.

Eye-Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing

EMDR is based on the idea that overwhelming emotions during a traumatic event interferes with the normal processing of information.  When undertaking EMDR, the person is asked to focus on particular images, thoughts, and bodily sensations related to the traumatic events whilst moving their eyes back and forth across their field of vision, tracking the movement of the therapist’s finger.  It is proposed that the dual attention helps the individual to process the trauma and integrate the memory within existing memory networks.

In addition to trauma specific treatment approaches, social support following a traumatic event has been found to be the best predictor of recovery.  As such, a focus of any treatment program should also focus on building or strengthening a person’s social support network.  Some lifestyle changes might also be helpful.

In addition to trauma specific treatment approaches, social support following a traumatic event has been found to be the best predictor of recovery.  As such, a focus of any treatment program should also focus on building or strengthening a person’s social support network.  Some lifestyle changes might also be helpful.

Clinical Psychologists are highly trained and qualified mental health professionals who are skilled in diagnosing and treating a range of mental health concerns, including PTSD.  A Clinical Psychologist can help you to identify and manage the factors that contribute to your distress, whilst also supporting you in developing appropriate coping strategies for symptoms management.

Make An Appointment

Please feel free to contact the office if you require any additional information:
Diamond Valley Clinical Psychology | 1185 Main Rd Eltham VIC 3095 | Phone: (03) 9431 1244

[recaptcha]

2018-08-22T19:24:43+10:00