Trauma and Counselling: Identifying the Perfect Fit

Woman wrapped up with only eyes showingTrauma is a universal experience that people across all walks of life grapple with. It can be precipitated by various events ranging from physical abuse, emotional or verbal abuse, loss, severe illness, or even witnessing a distressing event. The aftermath of trauma often results in emotional and psychological scars, affecting the individual’s mental health and quality of life. Counselling is one effective strategy that aids in navigating the path to recovery. Nonetheless, each person is unique, possessing distinct traits and necessities; thus, identifying a counselling approach that most effectively suits one’s individual requirements is paramount.

Understanding Trauma and It’s Effects

The ramifications of trauma, if left unresolved, often translate into profound psychological and emotional distress, manifesting in mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, addiction or even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – to mention but a few. These are common repercussions of unprocessed trauma, which can have significant impacts on a person’s mental health. Following a traumatic incident, the brain instinctively switches to survival mode, a state which can persist, leading to enduring behavioural and emotional problems as the individual grapples with their return to everyday life. Further to these mental and emotional challenges, physical symptoms such as chronic pain or disrupted sleep patterns may also arise, thereby compounding the mental health issues already present.

The Role of Counselling in Trauma Recovery

In the context of trauma recovery, counselling serves as a vital tool that assists those affected in articulating their experiences and feelings within a secure and safe environment. A proficient counsellor becomes instrumental in helping individuals navigate the aftermath of their traumatic experiences. Not only does counselling allow them to verbalise their feelings, but it also provides them with effective strategies to manage their symptoms and process their trauma. This approach allows for the enhancement of coping mechanisms, providing them with tools they can use in their journey towards healing. Moreover, counselling supports individuals in ensuring their traumatic encounters do not overshadow their existence, but rather help weave it into the fabric of their broader life story.

Types of Counselling for Trauma

For individuals grappling with trauma, several counselling options can provide aid. Options for trauma counselling include Narrative Therapy, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (TF-CBT), Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) or other somatic exercises, along with a selection of alternative therapies. The most appropriate counselling approach varies from person to person, depending on their unique circumstances, the type of trauma experienced, and their individual preferences and comfort levels. It is worth exploring these various methods to identify which resonates most with the trauma survivor and aligns best with their healing journey.

Narrative Therapy

Narrative Therapy offers an exceptional viewpoint, highlighting the importance of separating a person’s sense of self from the trauma they’ve experienced. This counselling technique’s main aim is to assist individuals in reconstructing their self-identity, detached from their harrowing experiences. This process entails reshaping the person’s life narrative and recapturing their identity unaffected by the trauma. It has shown particular promise for individuals who have endured childhood trauma or abuse. Through this therapy, survivors are given the opportunity to reconstruct their life narratives, thereby enabling them to retake control of their stories and see themselves beyond the realm of their trauma. As they separate from the persona of ‘victim’, they can view themselves as survivors, taking control of their own lives.

In short, narrative therapy is instrumental in cultivating a renewed, autonomous self-narrative, facilitating separation from a survivor’s agonising past, and supporting them in moving on from their trauma to embrace more joyous and fulfilling lives.

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (TF-CBT)

TF-CBT stands as a prominent method within psychotherapy designed to assist individuals in reconfiguring thought patterns that yield damaging behaviours and emotions. This counselling approach shines particularly when dealing with PTSD sufferers, as it equips them with the skills necessary to confront, and subsequently diminish their dread of traumatic memories. The ultimate result of this strategy is the reduction of their PTSD symptoms. The power of this therapy lies in its focus on cognitive restructuring, helping the individual to challenge and alter distressing thoughts related to their trauma, whilst simultaneously teaching coping skills to manage the emotional and physiological arousal associated with these thoughts. Thus, TF-CBT becomes a fundamental aid in the journey towards psychological resilience and well-being.

Trauma Release Exercises (TRE)

TRE is a physical therapeutic approach designed to alleviate the physical manifestations of trauma. This method employs a series of exercises designed to induce a self-regulated shaking or tremoring response in the body. This shaking is the body’s natural way of releasing tension and calming down after a stressful or traumatic event. By facilitating this physical release, TRE can help to relieve not only the physical discomfort but also the emotional anguish connected with the traumatic experience. This approach can be particularly beneficial in cases where the trauma is deeply rooted in the body’s memory, manifesting as chronic pain or tension. As with any therapy, it’s important to work with a trained professional who can guide the individual through the exercises safely and effectively, ensuring they feel comfortable and supported throughout the process.

Alternative Therapies for Trauma Counselling

Beyond the conventional counselling approaches, there are additional methodologies that can complement trauma recovery. EMDR, Art Therapy, and Yoga Therapy are amongst these.

  1. EMDR involves stimulating the eyes whilst recalling distressing events to help process and minimise the effects of trauma.

  2. Art Therapy uses creative mediums like drawing or painting as a form of self-expression, allowing individuals to express their feelings and thoughts related to the trauma.

  3. Yoga Therapy incorporates physical postures, breathing techniques, and mindfulness meditation to promote relaxation, reduce stress and enhance overall well-being.

These therapies, when employed in conjunction with traditional counselling techniques, can furnish a comprehensive, well-rounded, holistic approach to healing from trauma. As always, the choice of therapy should resonate with the individual’s comfort levels, personal preferences, and therapeutic goals.

Choosing the Right Type of Counselling

Embarking on the process of selecting the most suitable form of counselling necessitates a deep understanding of the individual’s distinct needs and the particulars of the trauma endured. The task of deciding the most suitable approach should not be taken lightly. It is vital to engage a counsellor who not only specialises in trauma but also instils a sense of safety and ease. Confidence in, as well as a good connection with one’s counsellor allows for a more open and honest dialogue, which aids in successful counselling.

The therapeutic approach should fundamentally empower the individual to manage their symptoms, offering them the skills to regain autonomy over their life. While the path to choosing the right counselling for you may seem daunting, with patience and careful consideration, the right fit can be found.


Every individual’s healing journey is distinctive and personal. It’s crucial to note that there is no universal one-size-fits-all remedy when it comes to trauma counselling. A tailored approach that carefully considers each individual’s unique circumstances, experiences, and preferences is vital. With the right counselling technique, survivors of trauma can successfully navigate this daunting journey, fostering resilience, kindling hope and ultimately reclaiming their lives. The key is to remember that with patience, understanding and the right support, healing and recovery are within reach.

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