Dealing with trauma
Trauma is an experience that is deeply shocking to us. This means it is overwhelming for our emotions and our mind to process and deal with what has happened at that point in time. Trauma may be physical, emotional or psychological, and often it is a combination of all three. Events that were too difficult to think about or to process when we were younger, can cause a range of difficulties in later life. By getting the support we need, we can work through the buried past and live our life more fully in the present.
Possible symptoms of unresolved trauma
- Anxiety and Depression
- Problems with trust and intimacy
- Anger and aggression and risk taking behaviour
- Substance misuse and other addictions eg gambling, sex, alcohol
- Numbness and spacing out (dissociation)
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Low self value and poor body image
Causes of unresolved trauma
What a person experiences as a traumatic event can differ greatly depending on age, our capacity to make sense of the experience, who we have around to love and support us, and many other factors. Some experiences, such as physical emotional and sexual abuse, we know leave lasting scars that can often stay buried until something makes us face the issue and ask for help.
No-one else can tell us whether what we experienced was traumatic for us. Specific incidents such as getting lost as a small child, or seeing something we were not meant to see, or finding out a family secret, can also become difficult to process and therefore the feelings are hidden away. We may even put the experience so far inside that we do not consciously remember it, or when we think of it, we just feel blank.
The emotions that get stuck, for example not being able to trust, or a fear of losing control, will start to show themselves as we grow older. Sometimes they can become very negative patterns of behaviour, such as obsessive compulsive disorder or controlling behaviour in relationship to loved ones.
Unresolved trauma needs to be given some attention and care. Healing past trauma requires time and a feeling of safety, in order to start addressing emotions and experiences that have been avoided or may be frightening. Finding the right therapist is very important so that you can build a feeling of trust and safety together.
Our therapists have a range of skills and specialities – please read each of our profiles to find out more.