Trauma and How Counseling Can Help

A car accident. A bullying episode in school. Sexual assault. Getting trapped in your bedroom while your house is burning down. Being caught in the crossfire of an actual shoot-out. Surviving a plane crash. Being a victim of physical abuse. A killing happening right before your very eyes. Fighting in a war. Getting divorced. The death of a loved one.

These are some very stressful experiences which can leave an indelible mark in your mind and emotions. Often, it can engulf you with fear and anxiety, so much so that you lose your ability to cope physically and emotionally. If these issues and anxieties are left unresolved, the emotional injuries may fester and lead to psychological problems.

Trauma and How It is Caused

Trauma, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, is defined as “severe emotional shock and pain caused by an extremely upsetting experience”.

People cope with trauma differently. One can move on from a particularly traumatic experience while another will have recurring nightmares and other psychological effects.  It actually depends on how a person reacts internally to a situation. This is because we all have different personalities, coping skills, experiences and emotional makeup and stability.

Psychological trauma happens when there is a stressful or painful event and the person’s internal coping mechanisms are too overwhelmed. The person who has difficulty coping with the traumatic event may need some help. A traumatic experience can be a single event or a repeated event happening over a long period of time. It can be caused by a natural disaster, was or by another person’s deliberate acts.

Trauma and Its Symptoms

Persons who suffer from severe emotional trauma can have physical, emotional and psychological symptoms. Depending on the severity of the trauma, they may be marked by:

– Recurring nightmares
– Depression
– Extreme anxiety
– Social isolation
– Recurring anxiety attacks
– A hard time focusing and concentrating
– Absent mindedness and memory deficits
– Overwhelming feelings of shame or guilt
– Problems sleeping
– Eating disorders
– Chronic fatigue
– Short-temperedness and irritability
– Aggressiveness
– Propensity to abuse alcohol or drugs
– Issues with sexuality and self-esteem

How counseling can help

Utah counseling for a victim of trauma is more than just “talking it out”. With the help of a Utah counselor, you can learn how to pinpoint the negative emotions and the steps towards coming to terms with these. Rather than attempting to suppress these negative emotions, counseling can help you channel these emotions.

When the trauma victim is more able to cope with the overwhelming feelings, this engenders feelings of personal control. An experienced Provo counselor can also direct the victim towards these positive coping actions. This can include:

– Providing a place of safety and structure. Provo counseling can provide a non-threatening and non-confrontational sanctuary in which one can process his experience. It is a place he can safely discuss, examine and explore his feelings and fears. Counseling also provides the structure and “balance” by making one face expectations and beliefs that may in fact be irrational and unrealistic.
– Education.  Family counseling in Utah may help the victim become more aware of the situation, his behavior, as well as its impact on himself and others.  Sometimes, the trauma victim cannot see the situation objectively. As the trauma victim becomes more aware of the presence of the problem and how one’s behavior contributes to it, one can then start planning the steps on how he can move on.  Another area where the person can be more aware is how the crisis itself can be used for that person to grow and uncover his capabilities to resolve the crisis.
– Help towards breaking free from negative behavior. A traumatized person can develop addictive behavior and vicious cycles that may be harder to break free of as time goes by. Often, to find relief from the effects of a trauma, a person turns to drugs, alcohol, risky sexual behavior and so on.  Counseling can help one face the need to change habits and negative behavior.
– Support for facing what the person fears. At one point or the other, the person will have to face what he fears in order for him to break free of it. It may be hard to face emotional pain but it is a response that can start the process of healing. An experienced counselor can help empower and support the trauma victim towards a healthier outlook and behavior.


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