Dealing with trauma
- counselling for PTSD after a single-event trauma

Part 1, Part 2

Involved in, or witnessed, a traumatic event?

When you're dealing with trauma, you may be experiencing an array of frightening symptoms. This page is here to give you a brief oversight of trauma, including:

  • timing of symptoms
  • traumatic events
  • debriefing
  • memories
  • and treatment

If you've landed here because you feel traumatised at the moment, I really want you to know that you have every chance of getting better. And I so hope I can help you to get there. If you're suffering from Post-Trauma Symptoms or PTSD, recovery really doesn't have to mean years of therapy either.

Timing of the trauma

If you were involved in - or witnessed - a traumatic event, your reaction may depend to some extent on when it exactly happened.

If you've very recently been traumatised, there's every hope that you'll begin to feel better within 2 - 4 weeks, if not before. Whatever you're feeling now is very likely to be absolutely normal.

If it happened 4-6 weeks ago and you're still really upset about it, now is the time to seek help. Trauma counselling can help you to deal with it and overcome the distressing symptoms of post traumatic stress, and even PTSD.

PTSD is diagnosed by a mental health professional. See my page on the Symptoms of PTSD for further information.

If you were fine before the event and you haven't suffered any mental health problems before, you may only need two or three sessions. However, please don't be disappointed if it does take a little longer.

If you went through quite a traumatic time as a youngster, your recent trauma may re-awaken old memories. Whether you're suffering from the results of past trauma or recent post-traumatic stress/PTSD, you can recover!

What kind of events can be considered potentially 'traumatic'?

What is considered a 'traumatic' event is to a large extent very personal. However, this list identifies the most commonly recognised potentially traumatic events:

  • industrial accident
  • road traffic/car accident
  • Traumatic Birth
  • fighting a war
  • reporting on a war
  • terrorist attack
  • assault/attack
  • hostage situation
  • watching your child receive traumatic medical treatment
  • work-related incident (e.g. fire and rescue, police, ambulance, medical)
  • traumatic medical treatment, stroke
  • witnessing a traumatic event, particularly if you are/were close to the victim/casualty
  • victim of crime

Witnessed a traumatic event?

An incident is potentially traumatic if there's some element to it that personalises it for you, for example if it involved:

  • a child of the same age as yours
  • someone doing the same job as you
  • someone driving the same car as you
  • somone who is the same age as your brother
  • someone with similar circumstances to you, and so on

If you've witnessed a traumatic event - particularly if it involved people close to you - the above time-scale is relevant for you too.

Is debriefing needed?

‘Emotional debriefing’ (as opposed to operational debriefing, for example as used by the police) is now not considered helpful - at least not in individual sessions. There appears to be little agreement on whether it's useful in groups.

On the whole, debriefing is not often needed: as human beings, we can generally come to terms with even significant traumatic events quite naturally - in a supportive environment.

We usually adapt to, absorb and/or manage the changes that have taken place as a result of a trauma. Those changes can be external, or internal - ‘inside our head’. Supportive people around us, rest and the natural passage of time all help. (See also: Coping with PTSD.)

Are your memories haunting you?

Join me in Part 2 to find out How to Deal With Trauma by stopping your memories from plaguing your life...

Part 1, Part 2

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Elly Prior

It's me - Elly Prior, I'm the Founder and Author of this site. I'm a 'real' person! I'm hoping to make a positive difference, small or large, to every person who visits my site.

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