I recently went to a seminar on trauma. Trauma is a near death experience such as a car accident, almost drowning, seeing a person actually die. Unfortunately, life encounters lend themselves to trauma. Trauma is accompanied by symptoms which can occur in the form of behavior and in a physical form. Angry outbursts, being unable to get along with others and drug abuse can be examples trauma based behavior. Poor sleep, anxiety, and hyper awareness to name a few are examples of physical signs of trauma. And, fear about reminders of trauma are are also an additional trauma symptom. I would name many more symptoms but preferably will keep this blog brief.
When going to see a therapist about trauma the follow advice will be an advantage in picking the ‘right” therapist:
Make sure the therapist has some form of formal training or at the very least many years of experience in working with trauma. Secondly, find out how they might approach you or a client initially. It appears very important that a prospective therapist know that first and foremost relaxation, problem solving and medication management are among the interventions that work well with people experiencing trauma symptoms. Once some of the previous interventions are are discussed and learned by the client, then he/she is ready to discuss trauma. In many instances clients will discuss trauma with a therapist but then are ill equipped to cope with the feelings that accompany their memories and symptoms. Furthermore, a good therapist in this area will know to normalize the trauma symptoms of the individual they are trying to help. In other words, anxiety, angry outbursts, sleep problems and depression are normal responses to abnormal events. This last point is key because people need to know there’s nothing wrong with them but that their struggle is normal and their experience with trauma is a significant hindrance to normal human functioning.
I view all of my clients as resilient and come in with the capacity built in to change. I am proud of the many people I’ve seen over the years who’ve overcome their trauma due to their courage, willingness to learn and above all else to trust the process of therapy.
Submitted by Ken Barrett, MSW, LCSW