Trauma and loss

  • Trauma

Traumatic events are by their very nature extraordinary in that they overwhelm the ordinary human adaptation's to life that give people a sense of control, connection and meaning. Traumatic reactions occur when neither fight or flight is possible such that the human system of self-defence becomes overwhelmed and disorganised. Traumatic events produce profound and lasting changes to physiological arousal, emotion, cognition and memory. 

Not all people who have experienced trauma will develop PTSD or require treatment; some recover with the help of family, friends or other support. But many do require professional help to successfully recover from the symptoms which range from full- blown PTSD (for a detailed list of these symptoms consult the SADAG website) to more minor complaints such as sleeplessness, mild depression, anxiety and fears. These complaints might even be difficult to link directly to the trauma itself. Trauma is also not necessarily an isolated event, many people who seek therapy are suffering from ongoing trauma and stress in their lives. Psychotherapy focuses on recovery based on the empowerment of the survivor and the creation of new connections. Recovery takes place within the context of a safe relationship where the damaged capacities for trust, autonomy, initiative, competence, identity and intimacy are recreated and restored.

  • Loss

Loss is an inevitable part of life, and grief is a natural part of the healing process. The reasons for grief are many, such as the loss of a loved one, the loss of health, or the letting go of a long-held dream. Dealing with a significant loss can be one of the most difficult times in a person's life. The grieving process takes time. Healing happens gradually; it can’t be forced or hurried—and there is no “normal” timetable for grieving.  It is also important to note that the grief process is not linear, but is more often experienced in cycles. The course of grief is unpredictable and every individual’s experience of grief is unique. 

But when grief takes over your life and you begin to feel hopeless, helpless, and worthless or unable to cope with work or school - then it's time to seek help. Unresolved grief can lead to complications such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and health problems. An important part of the healing process is allowing oneself to experience and accept all feelings that arise. Therapy offers a safe place where the client is listened to deeply and responsively and will involve a gradual process of reconstructing life out of loss.