Dealing with trauma: How can talking therapies help?

words Alexa Wang

talking therapies

No matter your lifestyle, your career stage or your support network, anyone can experience trauma at any time.

Trauma takes many forms, and it’s not always easy to recognise especially when the physical effects are only just starting to set in. For many people, dealing with trauma only happens after a period of isolation, but speaking to someone sooner rather than later could alleviate the situation.

Whether you’ve experienced a traumatic event yourself or you’re supporting someone who is, it’s always worth knowing the most effective coping strategies for a range of different circumstances.

What is trauma?

Trauma can be defined in different ways but is usually experienced after a particularly stressful or upsetting event. Someone with post-traumatic stress disorder is likely to have experienced severe trauma.

There are also several different triggers for three main types of trauma defined clinically, and these include:

  1. Acute trauma, which is experienced after one specific event
  2. Chronic trauma, caused by long-term events like emotional abuse or domestic violence
  3. Complex trauma, which is the result of repeated exposure to more than one traumatic event, usually over a prolonged period

No matter which type of trauma an individual has experienced, acknowledging the problem is the first step towards making a recovery. While talking therapies might not be a cure, they certainly set the wheels in motion for many people who have struggled to start dealing with the trauma.

Why can talking about trauma help you recover?

For many of us, talking about the most upsetting times and events in our lives feels daunting and not something we would ever want to approach. But for trauma survivors, opening up can pave the way towards a more stable and emotionally secure future.

Living with the effects of trauma is difficult, but some of the deep-rooted effects can only be unearthed and resolved after honest and confidential conversations with a trained therapist.

it’s not just the feeling of being listened to that supports trauma survivors. In situations where survivors need to face legal battles, therapy is absolutely vital. Professional counselling directs survivors to realistic strategies and healthy coping mechanisms, and having someone to talk to could even prove invaluable in the event of needing to make a personal injury claim.

Coping strategies for trauma survivors

  1. Try not to isolate yourself

When you’ve experienced something awful, you might not feel like sharing it. In fact, the pain under stress can be so overwhelming that the first instinct is often to shut yourself away and keep your feelings quiet.

But isolating yourself in this form can be more harmful than beneficial, so it’s important to try your hardest to continue your usual activities, including your usual work and social commitments. At the very least, spending time with groups of other people allows a distraction.

  1. Join a support group 

Sometimes, it can be hard to find someone who could ever understand what you’ve been through.

If you join a support group, it’s possible that you might be introduced to someone who has gone through something quite similar, and while trauma bonding might not be the best way to find long-term healing strategies, it could be your first step towards professional counselling.

Group therapy can feel challenging or even intimidating for newcomers. Try to overcome any reservations you might have about this experience and approach your first session with an open mind.

  1. Move your body

There’s plenty of science to back the fact that moving your body boosts endorphins, busts stress and makes you feel better on a daily basis. It’s not just the emotional benefits of exercise that could help a trauma recovery, either. When you work your muscles, you boost your circulation and your metabolism, giving you more energy throughout the day to deal with the physical effects of trauma.

Overview

It’s important to remember that no two cases of trauma are the same. While one strategy might prove effective for a friend, it could be counter-productive for you.

But trying a strategy that doesn’t work shouldn’t put you off seeking more help in the future. If you’re experiencing trauma and you’ve already tried to seek help, don’t give up on new approaches. With plenty of time and some professional support, it’s always possible to heal.

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