Joanne Gilhooly - Psychotherapist & Counsellor - Dublin City
Psychotherapy and Counselling for Trauma...
A traumatic incident is defined as an incident that is life-threatening or threatens one’s physical integrity, whether it is experienced directly, witnessed happening to another, or if one hears about an incident occurring to someone close to them, for example family or close friends.
During the period after a traumatic experience it is common to feel jumpy or ‘on guard’; to have intrusive memories, thoughts, dreams, or flashbacks; to have difficulty sleeping; to have difficulty functioning normally at work, with family or with friends; and to try to avoid any reminders of the incident, among other difficulties.
For the person who experiences trauma, the world that previously felt safe may not feel safe anymore. This change in worldview can be very confusing, both to the person themselves and to those around them. The person may be in a state of almost constant stress, a physiological state, which may benefit from increased body awareness and exploring tools and skills for boundary setting with others, where necessary.
Psychotherapy for trauma aims to establish safety first and to help the person identify, utilise, or increase their personal resources, so that they may create an environment that feels safer for themselves. It does not attempt to go over the details of the incident, nor does it aim to process these memories before a sense of safety has been established. While some people may feel ready to discuss the incident after a relatively short period, many may not, and it is important that this is not rushed.
Over time, as trust and safety in the therapeutic relationship is better established and the ‘ground work' of the counselling and psychotherapy process is done, the possibility of beginning to process the memories of the trauma arises. This can take time, and as everyone’s process is individual, exploration of each person's readiness is integrated into the work.