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Do I Need Trauma Counselling?

PTSDTrauma

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Written by Joe Nightingale

Medical Doctor

27 Feb, 2022

Traumatic experiences leave their mark. This can be physical scars and injuries. But it can also be lasting mental and emotional wounds, which are often harder to spot and talk about. These mental challenges can be soothed and treated with trauma counselling.

Trauma is an emotional response caused by a distressing or overwhelming event. It’s the emotional, psychological, and indeed, the physiological residue of an event. Traumatic experiences come in all varieties. It could be a car accident, witnessing a robbery, being attacked, or even prolonged emotional distress (for example, childhood neglect).

Such serious psychological experiences do not merely disappear overnight. Like physical ailments, the mental damage caused often needs treatment to get better – time alone is not enough.

So, how do you know if you need trauma counselling? Below, we discuss what trauma counselling is and the most common signs a person can benefit from it.

What is trauma counselling?

Trauma counselling is, in short, a type of talking therapy in which a professional counsellor helps you manage your emotional response to a traumatic event. The goal is to live a healthier, happier, and more fulfilled life.

During a counselling session, a trauma counsellor will help you understand your problem, provide a diagnosis, and offer long-term solutions to alleviate the chronic symptoms caused by the traumatic event. Trauma need not be permanent. Through counselling, many people go on to live enriched and engaging lives. It’s all about building your resilience and aiding your recovery.

Do you need trauma counselling?

Part of the difficulty in overcoming trauma is accepting it happened in the first place. Guilt, shame, and other emotions can prevent us from seeking the health we need. Because the wounds aren’t immediately visible, we assume they’re not there. We shrug off the traumatic incident and try to battle on as normal.

Have you experienced a traumatic event? If so, you can benefit from trauma counselling. If you’re not sure, think about these potentially traumatic circumstances:

  • Natural disasters or bushfires

  • Sexual assault or rape

  • Physical assault or serious injury (e.g., burns or dog attack)

  • War and military combat experience

  • Severe car accident

  • Frontline emergency or disaster work

  • Racism, bigotry, or discrimination

  • Surgical or medical treatment

  • Childhood neglect or abuse

  • Evictions or homelessness

This isn’t an exclusive list. However, it does demonstrate the diversity of traumatic experiences. Often, people assume being traumatised means being in a war or undergoing the most horrific events. But trauma can occur in all walks of life.

You can break your leg falling from a helicopter, or you can break it falling down the stairs. Just because one sounds worse doesn’t mean both don’t need treatment. Whatever your traumatic event, counselling can and will help.

Symptoms of trauma

Trauma isn’t merely having gone through a traumatic experience. Indeed, we all respond differently to different events. What would traumatise one person wouldn’t bother the next. There is no right or wrong response. Trauma needs treatment if its symptoms affects your daily life.

If you find yourself experiencing any of the following symptoms, you can benefit from trauma therapy.

Emotional and psychological

  • Shock, denial, or disbelief

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Guilt, shame, or self-blame

  • Anger, irritability, or mood swings

  • Emotionally numb or social withdrawal

  • Traumatic images or memories lodged in your mind

Physical

  • Insomnia or frightening dreams and nightmares about the event

  • Confusion or difficulty concentrating

  • Fast heart rate

  • Aches and pains

  • Muscle tension

  • Easily startled

Some of these symptoms aren’t solely signs of trauma. They can also be symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is far more common than people assume. Around 8% of women and 5% of men are affected by PTSD in Australia. It can be caused by extreme situations, like war, or by everyday events, like car accidents. However, events like relationship break-ups or losing your job aren’t typical causes of PTSD. The problem isn’t the cause but its effect on your brain.

PTSD is most commonly diagnosed by a doctor. They’ll refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist. You may also be referred to a trauma counsellor.

Common treatments for PTSD involve:

  • Trauma-focused cognitive behaviour therapy (TF-CBT) involves revisiting and processing traumatic memories. This is a form of trauma counselling.

  • Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) involves revisiting traumatic memories while going through a series of eye movements.

Such treatments can take between 8 to 12 sessions before you notice a difference. The longer PTSD – or any form of trauma – has been untreated, the more trauma counselling sessions are typically needed to see improvements.

Does Medicare cover trauma counselling?

Medicare does cover counselling for trauma issues. To qualify for the Medicare rebate, you must see a GP or psychiatrist and be referred to a psychologist or mental health social worker. Under the system, patients can claim up to 20 sessions per calendar year. Medicare rebates range from $75.95 to $126.50 per session, covering the vast majority of service fees.

To learn more about the process in claiming a Medicare rebate, you can read our how-to guide.

We’re here to help

Don’t suffer in silence. Don’t dismiss your symptoms and struggle alone. Here at Talked, you can book a free consultation today with one of our incredible therapists and counsellors.

Traumatic experiences can loom over everything in your life. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can overcome your mental health difficulties and live a fulfilling life with care and support.

Seeking help is the first step in that journey. Reach out to one of our qualified psychologists or counsellors for your free 15-minute consultation to and start your trauma recovery today.

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Joe Nightingale

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Joe is a qualified medical doctor, graduating from Hull York Medical School, United Kingdom in 2017. He's an avid freelance writer and also one of the top science writers at Medium.

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