Psychological trauma involves a frightening or distressing experience where someone feels his her own safety/life or the safety of a loved one is threatened. The person’s picture of safety and security is profoundly shattered. The Australian psychological society give examples of some typical traumatic events such as experiencing: a serious accident, an armed robbery, war or terrorism, natural disasters, sexual abuse, or the suicide of a family member or friend.
Because most people have different perspectives, defining what events are ‘traumatic’ can be very subjective. For example, a five year old being lost in a busy city may find this experience traumatic, whilst an adult may find it mildly stressful or inconvenient. In this way characteristics such as developmental stage or even perceptions of one’s own competency can impact if someone perceives an event as traumatic where significant levels of helplessness and fear for one’s life or well being is experienced.
If someone has experienced a traumatic event, it can often cause strong physical or emotional reactions and altered thinking patterns. These symptoms are very common and usually last for a couple of weeks. If you have recently experienced a traumatic event it is important to have a good support network and to feel safe. If you find that after a few weeks you are still struggling and unable to function, it is important to seek mental health help and visit a GP who can refer you to a Psychiatrist, or Psychologist.
Daniela Peiris (M Psych, B Adv Science, Hons Psych) is completing her Masters in Clinical Psychology, and is dedicated to working with individuals to help them gain the skills and the motivation to live a fulfilled and meaningful life. Daniela believes in the importance of creating a safe and supportive environment for people to talk about their experiences and emotions.