There is no simple definition of a traumatic incident. Traumatic incidents run from natural disasters through to deliberate human acts. The experience of trauma is not an uncommon one; a person may experience trauma as a response to any event they find physically or emotionally threatening or harmful. It is also very subjective; people have different reactions to traumatic events; for example, those who live through the same natural disaster can respond very differently despite experiencing the same event.
“Experiencing trauma is an essential part of being human.” van der Kolk and McFarlane
What causes trauma?
Trauma is the accumulation of lots of stressed factors. Experiences that may be perceived as traumatic range from experiences at the extreme end of the trauma spectrum (e.g., being taken hostage or kidnapped, victim of terrorism, war, natural disasters, incarceration in a concentration camp) to more everyday experiences that could happen to anyone anywhere (e.g., natural disasters, bullying, harassment, physical, psychological or sexual abuse, sexual assault, childbirth, sudden loss of a loved one, being attacked, automobile accidents, being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness). This list is far from exhaustive as there are potentially many other situations which may be perceived as traumatic.
Secondary trauma is another form of trauma. With this form of trauma, a person develops symptoms from close contact with someone who has experienced a traumatic event. Those who are risk are family members, mental health professionals, and other caretakers.
How to Cope with Trauma?
In the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event, it is common to experience shock or denial. The individuals who had experienced these traumas responded with numerous negative reactions including anxiety, confusion, denial, depression, fear, guilt, shame, acute stress, numbness, insomnia, sadness, restlessness, lack of concentration, feelings of helplessness and vulnerability, flashbacks, sweating, palpitations, tremor, anger or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Traumatic memories fade naturally with time as the person talks about the incident, thinks it through, expresses emotions, dreams, etc. There are several healthy ways of coping, such as avoiding alcohol and drugs, seeing loved ones regularly, exercising, sleeping, and paying attention to self-care.
Persistence of symptoms is a signal that professional help is needed as people might not be able to cope on their own with the distress following a traumatic event.
What tools I use for dealing with trauma?
• Rational Emotive Cognitive Behaviour Hypnotherapy
• EMDR – Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing
• EMIT – Eye Movement Integration Therapy
• Self-hypnosis training