The word ‘trauma’ has become a common one in our language. It is widely recognized in the armed forces with the term PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) which describes the after affects of trauma We tend to associate trauma symptoms with extreme experiences such as natural disasters or severe accidents.
However, in my work as a Toronto therapist, many of my clients experience trauma symptoms such as nightmares, sleep disturbances, anger issues anxiety attacks stress management, depression symptoms and addictive behaviours. I also see that these trauma symptoms relate to childhood experiences that had a severe affect on them. Nevertheless, many people do not classify these experiences as traumatic.
For example, a client, a child of an alcoholic father, reported many PTSD symptoms. He had anxiety attacks, depression symptoms and anger management problems. He remembered his father violent rage towards himself and his mother. Ordinarily people would not describe such experiences as traumatic. However, I definitely saw that his trauma symptoms were related to his father.
Another client seeking depression help also had codependent issues I related these to her mother’s rejection. Her traumatic feelings came from scenes such as her mother saying, “You’re not my child”, when my client angered her. She experienced panic attacks, depression symptoms and anger management problems. Her mother’s words terrified her and left her with trauma symptoms.
Trauma is subjective, not objective. What will cause trauma symptoms in one person will not to another. Also, judgment occurs in such cases. My clients, are often judged by people for having anxiety symptoms and other mental health issues related to trauma. They frequently hear that they shouldn’t have let ‘such a little thing’ bother them. This judgment adds further damage.
As a Toronto therapist I help people face their trauma symptoms. Trauma counselling needs to be done slowly and gently. It is important to understand that our nervous system became overloaded and, in effect, ‘turned off’ during the situation that traumatized us. The memory and the feelings are buried but not gone. Whether it was a ‘huge’ thing that traumatized us or a ‘small’ one, trauma counselling requires time and patience.