A traumatic event is any experience during which you fear for your own or someone else’s safety. It is common and normal to experience various symptoms after a traumatic event, such as recurring thoughts, nightmares and intense emotions. The recurring thoughts and nightmares can be thought of as our mind’s way of making sense of something terrifying that has happened. Unlike everyday memories, trauma memories are thought to be stored in a raw and sensory form (i.e. in sights, sounds, smells). This means they can be triggered unpredictably and out-of-the blue, for example by hearing a similar sound or seeing something that looks like something that was present during the trauma.
For some people, trauma symptoms naturally reduce over time. For others, the symptoms can continue or worsen. If trauma symptoms are extremely intense or continue beyond three months then a trauma-focussed therapy would be recommended. If symptoms last beyond three months you may meet the criteria of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). However, you do not need to have a diagnosis of PTSD in order to benefit from a trauma-focusssed therapy if you are experiencing distressing symptoms following trauma.
We are able to offer the three main types of trauma-focussed therapy: Trauma-focussed Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (TF-CBT), Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET), and Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR). These trauma-focussed therapies are different in the way they are carried out, but they all aim to reprocess trauma memories so that they are stored in a less raw and emotive form, and in turn reduce the frequency and intensity of trauma symptoms, or even resolve them. Trauma-focussed therapies also aim to give you back a sense of control.
Trauma-focussed CBT involves talking about the traumatic event in a safe space in order to make sense of the experience and re-process the memory and any beliefs you may have developed about yourself, others or the world. Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET) is similar to TF-CBT, but has been developed for people that have experienced a number of traumatic events. It involves developing a broader narrative of your life and re-processing the different traumatic events you have experienced. EMDR is quite different to TF-CBT and NET, and involves holding images of the traumatic event(s) in your mind whilst having both sides of your brain stimulated (either by following eye movements, alternate tapping, or bilateral sounds). If you would find it helpful to read some further information about EMDR please click here.
It is important that you feel in control of what trauma treatment you choose for yourself. If you would like further information about PTSD and recommended trauma treatments then please click here.