When terrible things happen like accidents and natural disasters, treatment
After a traumatic incident, individuals may keep ruminating over the event again and again so that it takes up valuable thinking time. It is as if the mind has been temporarily taken over with no headspace for normal daily function. They may experience a sense of overwhelming fear, intrusive images, thoughts, colours, smells and memories connected with the incident. Avoidance plays a part with some people – carefully avoiding talking, thinking or allowing triggers into their life to remind them of the trauma. This acts as a short-term safety mechanism but can lead to isolation from others. This can lead to damaged relationships while the individual stays withdrawn, with a sense of numbness and shock. Having a continuous startled response is another common symptom causing the individual to jump at every noise or sound.
Often individuals stuck in this way may seem as if their personality has changed, as they become irritable, have bouts of increased moodiness and episodes of anger. An inability to sleep properly or waking up regularly in the early hours may affect concentration and memory.
All symptoms are normal reactions to an abnormal situation; it is the body’s response for keeping the individual safe from further danger, a primeval instinct, more profound and highly developed than any of us give it credit for.
Any traumatic event in which the person’s life, or sense of self, appears to have been in grave danger, can cause a post traumatic stress reaction. The events may range from:
- Personal injury: such as stabbing, beating, armed assault, domestic violence, rape and/or sexual violence, torture, kidnapping.
- Accidents: road traffic, train or plane, work accidents, building collapse, bomb damage.
- Witnessing natural disasters: such as flooding, earthquakes, hurricanes.
- Life-threatening childbirth, surgery, severe illness or continuous bullying.
The common denominator is always that the symptoms began with the incident.
Right time for support:
Research states that a waiting time of at least four weeks after the incident/traumatic event should occur. After this time, if any of the symptoms as above are pre-occupying the individual’s daily functioning then assistance may be sought via any of the following interventions, whichever suits the individual.
Post Trauma Counselling
It is important to remember that general counselling is often not helpful in many cases of PTSD or related symptoms –the trauma that has been entrenched at the time of the traumatic incident is more automatic and factual. To be encouraged to enter into any ‘feeling’ work at this fragile stage can result in further embedding the trauma thus causing further injury to the client.
Critical Incident De-Briefing – Psychological De-Briefing (Interchangeable)
CID is not a remedy, it is a preventative intervention, and its main purpose is to break any of the development process of PTSD. It is essential that de-briefing should never be confused with counselling, as the method used is a totally different process. It should always be carried out by an experienced trauma specialist, trained and qualified to carry out a professional de-brief.
EMDR Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) integrates elements of many effective psychotherapies in structured protocols that are designed to maximize treatment effects. These include psychodynamic, cognitive behavioural, interpersonal, experiential, and body-centred therapies. EMDR is an information processing therapy and uses an eight-phase approach. It should only be undertaken by an appropriately qualified practitioner.
VK Association or Rewind Technique
The rewind technique, also known as the fast phobia cure, evolved from the technique developed by Richard Bandler one of the co-founders of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). He called it the VK dissociation technique (the V stands for visual and the K for kinaesthetic — feelings). The version recommended by the European Therapy Studies Institute has been refined and streamlined as a result of its own research into why and how best it works. It is highly useful for individuals who, after exposure to traumatic events, have developed PTSD or lesser forms of the condition.
Trauma can be addressed through hypnotherapy – this is a very powerful tool which will assist the individual to safely revisit the traumatic event with a new perspective. As several of the well-known interventions for trauma relate to a ‘reprocessing’ of the event, hypnotherapy is similar in that it lessens the impact. If this procedure is carried out by a trained professional, the traumatic event will still have a place in the memory; however, the effects will not continue to take up valuable thinking time.
CBT Trauma Intervention
CBT – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is based on the assumption that most unwanted thinking patterns and emotional and behavioural reactions are learned over a long period of time. The aim is to identify the thinking that is causing unwanted feelings and behaviours and to learn to replace this thinking with more positive thoughts.
Traumatised individuals tend to think they are going mad as so much around them is changing that they cannot cope. If they are parents they may feel that they are losing the ability to parent and this thought process can debilitate their core being while they try to make sense of what is happening. Updated research now means that trauma specialists have effective therapy techniques that can be delivered specifically and tailored to suit individual need in order to assist people in their recovery.