“The courage to go deeper is found by letting your desire grow larger than your fear.” – Oriah Mountain Dreamer

In the course of a lifetime, most of us will experience several personally traumatic incidents. Subsequently, seeking the advice and perspective of a counsellor can help you build your coping skills, regain your certainty, and renew confidence in your innate skills to help get through difficult times.

An event is traumatic if it threatens your safety and/or makes you feel helpless or you are not enough as you are. For example, traumatic events can include war, natural disasters, serious accidents, rape, witnessing violence, unmet childhood survival needs, assault, sexual abuse, physical or emotional abuse, gaslighting, childhood neglect, parent’s divorce, separation from or abandonment by a parent(s), childhood bullying, serious illness, humiliation, and the death of a loved one (including pets).

Additionally, there are traumatic events that are not always obvious to us, and they are equally as important and may require counselling to help us identify and process those events.

Causes of Emotional or Psychological Trauma

An experience can lead to emotional or psychological trauma, in any event if:

  • You were unprepared for it.
  • It happened unexpectedly.
  • You felt powerless to prevent it.
  • It happened repeatedly.
  • Someone was intentionally cruel.
  • You felt severely embarrassed.
  • You were physically, sexually, or emotionally hurt.

Symptoms of Trauma

Trauma develops differently from person to person. For instance, while often the symptoms develop in the hours or days following the traumatic event, it can sometimes take weeks, months, or even years before they appear.

Symptoms may include:

  • Intrusive, upsetting memories of the event.
  • Flashbacks, that is acting or feeling like the event is happening again.
  • Nightmares, either of the event or of other frightening things.
  • Feelings of intense distress when reminded of the trauma.
  • Intense physical reactions to reminders of the event, for example, pounding heart, rapid breathing, nausea, muscle tension, sweating.
  • Avoiding activities, places, thoughts, or feelings that remind you of the trauma.
  • Inability to remember important aspects of the trauma.
  • Loss of interest in activities and life in general.
  • Feeling detached from others and emotionally numb.
  • Sense of a limited future, for example, you don’t expect to live a normal lifespan, get married, have a career.
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep.
  • Irritability or outbursts of anger.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Hypervigilance, indeed on constant “red alert.”
  • Feeling jumpy and easily startled.
  • Guilt, shame, or self-blame.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Feelings of mistrust and betrayal.
  • Depression and hopelessness.
  • Suicidal thoughts and feelings.
  • Feeling alienated and alone.
  • Unexplained aches and pains.

Contact Eva for an appointment or connect with her on the Psychology Today platform.