Trauma Counselling

Are you being affected by past traumatic events?

  • Are past traumatic events having an impact on your life now?
  • Feeling like you are re-living the actual traumatic event?
  • Wondering if you can ever overcome your fear of it happening again?

When you contact us, we will help you choose the best match for your situation from our team.

We are open daytime and after hours, Monday to Saturday, including evenings. We can also be contacted on (02) 9683 1444.

Trauma

What is trauma?

Traumatic events can include: near-death experiences; witnessing someone being killed; or suffering from torture, domestic violence, physical or emotional abuse, childhood abuse and many other forms of abuse. It can include the experience of trauma on a regular basis or as a single incident.

These things can come as a shock to us when they occur. Life can throw us curve balls, which can lead to stress reactions. We may experience grief or loss, or trauma due to these experiences.

Trauma is like emotional whiplash in which someone’s core being is injured. Terrible things can sometimes happen in life. Some things can feel out of our control.

In the physical sense, trauma relates to injury or the impact of an injury to a certain body part. The same kind of impact can occur on an emotional or psychological level. The pain and trauma felt in this way are not so visible and a bit trickier to identify in yourself and other people.

Reach out for professional help today

Common types of trauma

Post-traumatic stress disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a set of reactions that can develop in people who have been through a traumatic event which threatened their life or safety, or that of others around them. This could be a car or other serious accident, physical or sexual assault, war or natural disasters such as bushfires or floods. As a result, the person experiences feelings of intense fear, helplessness or horror.

It is common for people to have some of the symptoms of PTSD in the first few days after the traumatic event. These feelings usually fade and we recover by ourselves or with the support of family and friends.

However, sometimes it can lead to severe feelings of fear and anguish that stay with us for a long time. These feelings can start to interfere with the ability to work and study, relationships and day-to-day life. When this happens, we need help to get through it.

Complex trauma

Complex trauma is different from the trauma of a single incident. Single incident trauma is associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Survivors of complex trauma may experience PTSD and are at increased risk of PTSD. Yet the impacts of complex trauma are more extensive and debilitating than those of PTSD alone.

Complex trauma is associated with long-term exposure to multiple traumatic events, usually during early childhood. These events are severe, pervasive and interpersonal in nature, such as abuse or profound neglect. They can disrupt many aspects of a child’s development and the formation of a sense of self.

Symptoms of complex trauma are similar to the symptoms of PTSD. Complex trauma can cause problems with memory and disrupt the development of a person’s identity and their ability to control emotions and form relationships with others.

People affected by complex trauma often find it difficult to trust others or regulate their levels of arousal and behaviour. Most people with complex trauma have severe dissociative symptoms.

See counselling for abuse for more information.

Vicarious trauma

Vicarious trauma is when someone has a trauma response to something they did not experience first-hand. For example, they may have witnessed a traumatic event or heard someone else talk about such an event.

Vicarious trauma can have as profound an effect as though that person experienced the trauma first-hand.

This type of trauma can also occur in first-response professionals or health professionals.

Some examples are:

  • Police
  • Ambulance staff
  • Crisis counsellors
  • Domestic violence or sexual assault counsellors

Common responses to trauma

Trauma can affect someone in the following ways:

  • It can affect our sense of safety and security in the world
  • It can alter our ability to make and maintain relationships
  • It can lead to mental illness, such as anxiety or depression
  • It can affect the ability to function in their everyday lives

People who have experienced a traumatic event often describe “re-living” it. It is as if they are re-experiencing the actual event again. This can be frightening and distressing. They may avoid memories of the trauma or any person, place or situation which might remind them of it. However, efforts to avoid such stimuli do not usually help in the long run.

The effects of trauma can come on suddenly or straight after the traumatic experience. Or they can come on gradually after some time has passed since the traumatic incident. They can be short-term effects or acute in nature or they can become more long-term.

Trauma counselling may help you

Trauma reactions are our body’s natural response to try to cope with unexpected events that threaten our inherent need for safety. Recognising that current risky behaviour may be an attempt to solve past unresolved trauma can be the beginning of recovery.

While these responses may fade over time, seeking professional help to process what happened often leads to better recovery. It may be time to seek help if the coping mechanisms are interfering with your daily living.

Replacing unhealthy coping mechanisms with healthy ones is a very important part of healing but can also be very challenging. It is an ongoing process in which appropriate counselling and support can be of enormous value.

A trained professional can:

  • Help you explore different elements to your experience
  • Help you feel more grounded and safe in the world
  • Provide strategies for coping with fear and other trauma responses

Safety is the first priority in trauma therapy. Counselling proceeds at a pace that is manageable for you. The aim of trauma therapy is to help you feel more integrated and in control of your body’s responses to the trauma. Over time, you can heal, grow from it, and flourish — even through the fear and pain.