Trauma and Abuse

Have you experienced a trauma that feels impossible to put behind you?

Maybe you’re concerned about childhood abuse that’s affecting you now?

Whether it’s emotional, psychological, physical or sexual…

Trauma and abuse can affect all areas of life. As well having higher levels of anxiety and / or low mood you might find you’re avoiding things you’d normally do. Like going out or spending time with friends. Or you might find you’re doing things you normally wouldn’t do – like drinking too much or spending more time online. You might not understand your reactions and be struggling to control them.

You could also be experiencing flashbacks. These might be visual memories of an event that feel like you’re reliving it. Or (confusingly) emotional flashbacks, where you re-experience the past emotions of trauma in your present life but without the memories. Leaving you feeling your everyday responses are way out of proportion to what’s going on around you.

Feeling unsafe can be debilitating when you’ve experienced trauma or abuse because the very nature of these events shake your sense of safety in the world (both physically and emotionally). Fortunately, we know a lot about post-trauma responses now and there are tried and tested ways to help you put trauma and abuse back where they belong – in the past.

Woman biting lip

“I wasn’t sure how talking about my problems would help resolve them. I was suffering from post traumatic stress but since my counselling I feel a lot more relaxed. I also feel more in control because I understand the problems I was facing. Kirsty’s explanations helped me understand my feelings after the ordeal I went through.

Female client, Cardiff

Trauma and Abuse

How do you overcome it?

The difference between trauma in adulthood and childhood.

A traumatic event as an adult can interrupt your sense of safety and overwhelm your emotions. Work may be needed to help you make sense of what happened and find ‘solid ground’ and security once more. If you’ve experienced trauma and abuse as a child the effects are more complicated. This is because it occurred while you were developing into adulthood so vital stages can feel like they’ve been missed.

Will you be expected to talk about the trauma?

The aim of the work is to release the emotional and physical charge of the events. As well as working with the beliefs, perspectives and behaviours they left behind. Some clients find it helpful to describe the events themselves but not always. Read on to find out how I work with trauma.

The work is similar for both types of trauma.

I work from a position of safety for both. Babette Rothschild (a leading psychotherapist in the trauma field) likens it to a bottle of soda that’s been shaken. If you take the lid off in one go it’s likely to explode everywhere. But by opening the lid in stages the pressure is released and we let the trauma out bit by bit. This is how I work in sessions.

Hands round lamp light

How We’ll Work

1) Understanding the trauma response
We’ll explore the biology of trauma – what actually happens in your brain and body during and after a traumatic event, including your nervous system response. Understanding it can help you regain control.

2) Working on your physical and emotional safety
We’ll use different techniques to help you start feeling grounded and safe in your body again – including breathing exercises and mindfulness. We’ll go at your pace with safety in mind, tuning in to what’s right for you.

3) Identifying the effects of trauma in your body
Next we’ll look at what you’re experiencing in your body – not just the emotions or the thoughts you have about them but the sensations themselves. Learning to bring your attention to what’s happening can give you more control and allow the symptoms to pass. This can take time and practice.

4) Making sense of what happened
At this point you’ll have a clearer understanding of what happened and how it affected you. Your improved awareness of thoughts, feelings and emotions can mean you start thinking about (and talking about) the trauma without it feeling so overwhelming.

5) (After abuse) Finding new ways forward
With a greater sense of safety and clarity, we can start to look at old patterns of thoughts, emotions and behaviours. These served you in the past but may not help with your healing and recovery. We can work on any of these you choose, helping you find new ways forward.

If you feel this could work for you, please get in touch.


Photo Credit: Photo by Jeremy Perkins on Unsplash | Photo by Kristijan Arsov on Unsplash | Image by Goran Horvat from Pixabay

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