“I know what is causing my problems, I can’t change what happened, so why can’t I just get
over it.” Clients who have experienced complex trauma often make statements of this nature
during the course of therapy.
Clients who have experienced complex trauma have often, although not always experienced
traumatic events at a young(er) age, the experience is often chronic (experienced multiple
times), and is severe and intense with little or no support available.
People often come to counselling saying they experienced difficult, painful or traumatic events earlier in their lives, and they believe that these events are likely to be at least a part
of the cause of their difficulties now. Clients often also say they feel frustrated with themselves for not being able to deal with it on their own.
What is trauma?
Trauma occurs when someone experiences an event, and is unable to cope. There is
typically overwhelming shock and a feeling of being unable to escape a dangerous situation.
What might be traumatic for one person, may not be for another person.
Many people who experience trauma will recover with the right support in place and they will
not need medical or psychological support. Some people may need a brief intervention/support from a professional, particularly if the traumatic event has been a “one
off”. Others however may develop severe symptoms and require longer-term and intensive
professional support and may have experienced complex trauma, perhaps where trauma is
connected with relationships.
Apart from possible intrusive thoughts and memories, intense or prolonged fear or anxiety
responses including panic, someone with a trauma history may feel alone or disconnected
from others or themselves, they can be fearful at times that they don’t expect that they
should, they can feel a sense of helplessness and also feel that there is something wrong
with them, and they worry that others will see their “wrongness”.
Traumatised people are also often frightened that if they think about or talk about their
trauma they will not be able to cope. Talking with a psychologist can help you understand how trauma affects the way you access and think about your memories, and how those earlier experiences might be affecting your life and relationships now. Neuroscientists have made significant advances in understanding how at a neurological level trauma experiences change the way a brain responds and how trauma memories are stored in our bodies often triggering physiological responses. A psychologist can help clients understand how their own experiences might be affecting them physically during a trauma response.
If this article has connected with you, and you would like to make an appointment, please
contact Anna by telephone or email.