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Introducing Trauma

If you have experienced trauma, CBT can help. Based in Wilmslow, I specialise in providing trauma focussed therapy.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects around 3% of people at some point in their life and a third of people who experience a trauma will go on to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD describes a set of distressing psychological and physical symptoms, PTSD can often be frightening, debilitating and isolating.

What is a Trauma?

  1. Serious accidents such as road traffic accidents

  2. Being told you have a life-threatening illness

  3. Bereavement

  4. Violent personal assault, such as a physical attack, rape, sexual assault, robbery, or mugging

  5. Military combat

  6. Natural or man-made disasters

  7. Terrorist attack

  8. Traumatic childbirth (PTSD UK)

PTSD can also develop if we witness someone else experiencing a trauma, or if we are repeatedly exposed to graphic traumatic information. Researchers also propose that the impact of emotional trauma, such as bullying, can also cause the development of some symptoms of PTSD.

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

  1. Flashbacks – feeling like you are back in the trauma – you might even re-experience the physical feelings that you felt during the incident, you might see, hear or smell the same things you were exposed to during the trauma

  2. Intrusive memories – the memories connected to the trauma enter your mind suddenly

  3. Hyper-vigilance – a sensation of being too alert and jumpy feeling like danger is around every corner

  4. Avoidance – you no longer want to see friends, have hobbies or going outside, your world might have become very small

  5. Numbing Out – feeling detached from your emotions and disconnected from your day to day life

  6. Physical Symptoms of being in the Flight and Fight response – trembling, sweating, churning stomach, pounding heart, tight chest

  7. Nightmares – these dreams relate to themes of the trauma; they’re distressing, graphic and stay with you throughout the day

  8. Depression – motivation and hope seem far, far away, life no longer feels rewarding and the future seems bleak.

  9. Anxiety – you feel tense and on edge all the time and you feel emotionally exhausted

These symptoms will not happen all at once and we can flip between symptoms.

For example, a survivor of an attack might feel numbed out, then distressed, then overwhelmed, then numbed out again. Symptoms can be dependent on our environment. Margaret Atwood highlights this phenomena in her novel

The Testaments:  “You hold it in, whatever it is, until you can make it through the worst part. Then, once you’re safe, you can cry, all the tears you couldn’t waste time crying before.”

What is Complex Trauma?

If someone has experienced continuous traumas or several traumas, or if the traumas occurred when they were very young this could cause Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD). C-PTSD shares the symptoms above but with potential addition of the following:

  1. Overwhelming Emotions – Anger, Guilt, Shame, Extreme Sadness are all Trauma Related Emotions

  2. Emotions might become dysregulated – you don’t seem to have control of your emotions

  3. Suicidal Thoughts – life doesn’t seem worth living anymore

  4. Destructive Behaviour – Addictions, Self Harm, placing yourself in risky situations

Can you treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Complex Trauma?

Absolutely, there is hope, both Trauma and Complex Trauma can be treated.

When treating PTSD and C-PTSD my initial priority is to provide a safe and secure base for my clients. For survivors of trauma I offer Trauma Focussed

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, this approach has got a strong evidence base for successfully treating PTSD and it is recommended by NICE, Trauma Focussed CBT helps clients:

  1. Understand how trauma effects the brain and body.

  2. Tell their story at their own pace in a safe environment.

  3. Reduce trauma symptoms such as nightmares and flashbacks.

  4. Address patterns of avoidance.

  5. Settle feelings such as hyper-vigilance, guilt, anxiety and depression.

  6. Focus on rebuilding their lives.

Schema Therapy is also an extremely healing therapy which I frequently use to support survivors of Trauma. Schema Therapy is a longer term therapy and really beneficial for clients who have Complex Trauma, it integrates Trauma Focussed CBT whilst treating deeply held negative belief systems and destructive behavioural patters that have been caused by the Trauma. Schema Therapy helps you to understand and challenge negative belief systems and develop healthier ways of coping. There is a real focus in helping you to become much more caring and compassionate towards yourself. Trauma focussed therapy is empowering and transformative. If you’re reading this article because you’ve experienced a trauma or multiple traumas, you do not have to battle on alone. Contact me to discuss how you can begin your journey to recovery. Our work together will be at your pace and centred around your goals, we will address your symptoms and allow you to get back the life you deserve.

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