Complex Trauma – Traumatic experiences can leave us feeling lost, scared and hopeless. Trauma can impact our feelings of safety in the world and challenge our beliefs about both ourselves and others. Complex trauma is best described as a psychological injury resulting from repeated, sustained, or chronic exposure to traumatic events. Complex trauma can be emotional, physical, or sexual in nature. Experiences of complex trauma can leave us struggling to understand and cope with what we experienced. Trauma counselling can provide a supportive space to process and cope with traumatic experiences.
Trauma counselling is a form of therapy that supports individuals in managing the effects of traumatic events. The goal of trauma counselling is to assist individuals in coping and recovering after having experienced trauma. Trauma therapy should be conducted by a skilled registered counsellor in Vancouver. Appropriately trained and skilled therapists can support clients in coping with and processing traumatic experiences so that they can move towards bolstering a more fulfilling life.
This article will provide information on how trauma counselling can work to help individuals recover from complex trauma.
Provide a safe place to re-establish yourself
Following a traumatic experience, individuals may experience a multitude of feelings. Emotions such as sadness, anger, guilt and shame are commonly experienced following a traumatic event or experience. These feelings, while completely understandable, have the potential to interfere with our daily functioning and feelings of contentment. At times, these feelings may impact how we feel at work, home and in relationships.
A skilled trauma counsellor, such as those listed with trauma counselling Vancouver, can provide a safe place to talk about how you’re feeling. Trauma can make us feel disconnected from both ourselves and the world. Trauma counselling can help bring back our sense of reality and help us to re-establish our sense of self after a traumatic experience.
Three commonly described stages of trauma therapy include:
- Safety and stability: In this stage, a trauma therapist’s primary focus is on increasing the client’s feelings of safety both in the world and within themselves. In addition, the therapist and client will work together to bolster the client’s coping skills so that they feel better able to manage and move through painful feelings and memories, should they arise. Through this process, the client and therapist will work together to build trust and safety, so that the client feels secure enough to discuss the traumatic experience.
- Grieving and remembering: During this stage, clients experience and process painful emotions, memories and thoughts that may be associated with the traumatic experiences. The trauma counsellor will provide a compassionate and empathic space for the client to make sense of their experiences. The therapist will assist the client in fostering their internal resources to continue to process and manage their experience.
- Restoring relationships: During this stage, an emphasis is on assisting the client in reconnecting and rebuilding their relationship with both themselves and their loved ones. Through the recovery stage, clients begin to feel an increased sense of empowerment, ultimately helping them to reconnect with the world around them in a way that feels safe and autonomous.
The trauma counselling process works to provide clients with a safe and non- judgemental space to process and heal from the traumatic experience that they have endured. Trauma counselling can provide clients with a space to move through and make sense of the emotional, mental, and physical pain they may be struggling with.
Help Identify your Triggering Factors
Flashbacks are experiences in which we feel as though we are re-experiencing a traumatic event. Flashbacks can be triggered by things that remind us of the traumatic event. For example: scents, images, touch or sounds that were associated with the traumatic event may act as a trigger for a trauma flashback.
Identifying your emotional triggers can be an important and necessary part of recovering from and reducing flashbacks. Trauma counselling may involve exploration around what factors provoke negative feelings or flashbacks surrounding the traumatic experience.
Identifying triggers will help you recognize and understand how these factors influence your daily life and negatively affect your wellbeing. Gaining awareness around triggers can provide us with space to work through and process these experiences. As a result, clients become more aware of what sets off these feelings and how they can prevent them from interfering with their life.
Gain Healthier Coping Mechanisms
For some, unresolved trauma may lead to painful and self- destructive behaviours such as avoidance, withdrawal and impulsivity. While damaging, these behaviours often present as a means of coping with and managing painful experiences and emotions that have presented in response to traumatic events. Through trauma counselling, clients can learn to identify and honour their coping efforts, while simultaneously working to adopt more effective and healthy means of coping with their experience. (6)
Through the counselling process, client’s can work with their counsellor to manage their emotions, work through triggers, foster a sense of safety and solidify effective relaxation techniques. Combined, these experiences may have the power to assist clients in overcoming and healing from their traumatic experiences.
Complex [trauma] can affect your feelings of safety and connectedness to both yourself and others. Fortunately, with the proper [trauma]counselling methods, we can learn to manage triggers, increase feelings of safety and regain a sense of control over our lives. [Trauma] counselling can ultimately support us in stepping into richer and more fulfilling lives.
- “What Is [Complex Trauma] and How Does It Develop?” Source: https://psychcentral.com/ptsd/complex-trauma-a-step-by-step-description-of-how-it-develops#examples
- “What Is Trauma Counselling?” https://headroom.co.za/what-is-trauma-counselling/
- “Phases of Trauma Recovery: How to Reclaim Normalcy After a Crisis” Source: https://share.upmc.com/2019/08/phases-of-trauma-recovery-50ph/
- “What Are PTSD Triggers?” Source: https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-are-ptsd-triggers.
- “What Are Triggers & How To Cope Up?” Source: https://thetherapycentre.ca/what-are-triggers-and-how-to-cope/
- “Why It’s Important To See a Trauma Therapist And How They Can Help”, Source: https://www.southbaylatherapy.com/why-its-important-to-see-a-trauma-therapist-and-how-they-can-help/