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What is Psychological Trauma?
Psychological trauma occurs when a person experiences a traumatic event, which usually involves a threat (or perceived threat) of death or serious injury to themselves or others - the type of emotions the individual may feel usually involve fear, helplessness, shock or horror.
Traumatic experiences could include: road traffic accident, natural disaster, rape, assault, robbery, childhood abuse, combat situations, domestic violence, terrorist attack, torture, diagnosis of a terminal illness, traumatic bereavement and others.
Some people can feel traumatised following events that do not directly threaten life but are nevertheless shocking and deeply upsetting, for example, being made redundant, finding out that their partner is having an affair, having their home re-possessed, being criticised in front of other people, quarrelling with a good friend, losing a beloved pet, being bullied at school or work. Whist these may not satisfy the "official criteria" for trauma, it is important to acknowledge that such events could have a profound and lasting effect on our lives and that sometimes we may need help to deal with these "mini-traumas" - which can cause symptoms similar to those of PTSD.
What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is diagnosed if the person who has experienced the traumatic event, continues to suffer the following symptoms after a month or longer after the event:
(a) Intrusive thoughts, flashbacks or nightmares, where the traumatic event is re-experienced.
(b) Avoidance of people, situations or things that might bring on their intrusive symptoms.
(c) Hyperarousal - physiological signs of increased emotional arousal, hypervigilance (constantly looking out for danger) or increased startle response.
What help is available?
If symptoms do not subside after a month or two following the traumatic event, it may be necessary to seek professional help. National Institute for Clinical Excellence recommends CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing) as effective treatments for PTSD.
There is a lot of clinical evidence and increasing volume of research available to indicate that Emotional Freedom Technique and related therapies which use a combination of acupressure and psychology (such as Thought Field Therapy, Tapas Acupressure Technique and others), are also effective for PTSD treatment, with the results resembling those of obtained through EMDR, but further research is necessary in this area. Whichever treatment you choose, make sure that you see an experienced and qualified practitioner.
Appointments are available at my clinics in Glossop, High Peak (Derbyshire) and in Mossley (Lancashire) - both venues are around 30 minutes drive or a train ride from the centre of Manchester. Online and telephone consultations may be available subject to suitability - please enquire. I offer reduced cost therapy sessions to ex-servicemen and emergency services employees traumatised in the course of their duties.
Sources of information & support
The Long Boat Home - directory of UK therapists offering reduced-cost treatment to ex-servicemen and women
Gift From Within - International organisations for victims of trauma and victimisation
If you buy any of the books through the links below it will result in me receiving a small commission from Amazon. This will help towards funding discounted treatment for people who cannot afford to pay the full fee.
Operation: Emotional Freedom - available only from the official website.