Suffering from trauma can feel paralyzing and wreak havoc on your personal and professional life. Meaningful relationships can fall apart. Some typical signs of trauma are hostility and aggression, defensiveness, reactiveness, poor focus, irritability, anxiety, tantrums and even bossiness.
Today, we have extensive research into the causes and best treatment and prevention of trauma. Importantly, trauma is not necessarily based on the severity of the event that occurs: It is actually a result of the impact of that event on the individual. Events that can trigger this sort of flight-or-fight response include witnessing or experiencing domestic violence; sexual assault; physical abuse and neglect; witnessing or being a victim of violent crime; accidents and bad injuries; and military actions. However, each person is unique and experiencing one of these events does not necessarily lead to trauma. Moreover, constant exposure to small events with a cumulative effect can also bring about a trauma response, such as exposure to environments that are chaotic, aggressive and/or punitive, as well as instability in the family financially and emotionally. If a person is able to keep within their range of what they can tolerate, they are more likely to have a better ability to problem-solve and demonstrate resilience.
We treat trauma sufferers by first establishing a therapeutic relationship between counsellor and client. We understand that the client needs to trust the counsellor and feel safe in this environment. We then move on to a psychoeducational and skill-building component so the individual feels informed and has a better understanding of how and why certain thoughts and feelings are being experienced. Next, we help the individual to desensitize, meaning that they begin to change their fight – flight mode of feeling when recalling the event(s) and begin to integrate that event into their own life. Some of the techniques we teach and practice with our clients to help the desensitizing process include relaxation (progressive relaxation and anchoring), grounding and containment. Craig Puller is a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional and also has a certificate in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (TF/CBT).