We often think about people who experienced trauma, how broken they may feel losing someone they love. We pity them for experiencing such a terrible incident like a car crash, sports mishaps, or any other life-threatening events. There are also military men who suffer unmanageable effects of being on a battlefield. We see this kind of situations in movies, and these people typically prefer to be isolated – free from interaction with other people. They are worried that people might misunderstand or reject them because they may fail to act the way normal people do.
According to Barbara Markway, PhD, “The recognition of trauma as an important factor in psychological and physical symptoms is not new. During the American Civil War, combatants were described as suffering from “soldier’s heart” or “nostalgia.” The use of heavy artillery in World War I led to the idea of “shell shock.” More recently, the diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has entered our lexicon, and specific treatment approaches have been developed.”
However, how many of us think of the people who are behind these individuals who are helping them cope? How do they manage to deal with the trauma of others? What are the challenges they need to face and endure to achieve the outcome they aim for PSTD clients?
Medical practitioners including therapists are humans too. They can feel, therefore, can be affected by the negative feelings, thoughts, and emotions of people who seek their help, but how do they do cope after helping someone cope? What are the challenges they need to face in performing a trauma-informed therapy?
“A therapist who is trauma-informed knows that the mind and body of a person with unhealed trauma is functioning in an altered way. That person may be easily triggered to feel too much emotional intensity (hyperarousal), or shut down and unable to feel much at all (hypoarousal),” wrote Robyn E. Brickel, MA, LMFT. Medical staff, nurses, and therapists who deal with trauma patients hear unfortunate situations each day.
They witness the burden of these people first hand that’s why they tend to feel their pain. If one is not trauma-informed or is not knowledgeable in handling trauma cases, he may have the possibility to be too attached to the patients. Sometimes, the skepticism of other people which includes their pain, misery, anguish, injury, or anything they are suffering from are all absorbed by the person who conducts the treatment. If a patient who recently lost someone says, “The pain is too much to bear. I am lost, and I don’t know what to do,” and so forth, the therapist cannot refuse to listen. He should be all ears to what his patient is conveying, making him prone to feeling the pain as well.
The therapist is required to be tough emotionally,or else he can get caught up in the negativity of the patients, and that is where their years of study and pursuance of expertise shows. Being trauma-informed is useful for both the patient and the therapist as the knowledge of trauma for therapists helps them compose themselves in dealing with their patients. It allows them to familiarize with the reality of an impactful event, and it also sets their expectation preventing them from being overwhelmed and distressed by what they see or hear.
This is beneficial to patients because it allows them to receive the appropriate treatment they need, especially when they are dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder or other conditions linked to impactful life events. All counseling services are beneficial as they all aim to better the mental health of a person, but trauma-informed therapy focuses on the cause of the problem which is the trauma experienced by the patient. Therefore, it is easier to plan an approach or technique for addressing the issue.
Mellissa Withers, PhD, MHS, emphasized the need for training in trauma-informed care among health-care providers and law enforcement. She wrote, “This training in trauma-informed care is necessary for health-care providers and law enforcement. This training is important to build the capacity among providers to deliver holistic patient care, being sensitive to how a range of experiences over the life course may relate to a person’s current health behaviors and health status.
Likewise, being trauma-informed makes a therapist prepared to aid patients without having to worry about being too attached and emotionally affected by the issues of the patients. It makes the therapist objective and focused on one goal, and that is to help the patient in achieving great mental health.