Psychotraumatology is a branch of psychology that focuses on traumatic events in a person’s life. Events that are very stressful for the psyche can cause long-term consequences that make daily functioning difficult or even impossible. Disorders resulting from trauma do not go away on their own. There are various forms of psychotraumatological therapy for treating trauma.
What is Psychotraumatology?
Psychology analyzes various aspects of the human psyche, mechanisms for coping with different situations, as well as ways of reacting and navigating various social situations. Different areas of life require individual analysis in a psychological context and attention to their interdependencies. One of the narrower areas of psychology is psychotraumatology, that is, the psychology of trauma.
A traumatic situation, i.e. a situation involving a life-threatening injury, may not be a source of long-term anxiety or strong anxious symptoms. On the other hand, trauma may be associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). People who have experienced trauma often need professional help. This can be provided by a psychotherapist, especially if they have appropriate knowledge in the field of psychotraumatology.
Psychotraumatological consultation – who is it suitable for?
A psychotraumatologist is usually a person with relevant psychological or medical education. It is suitable for people who have experienced serious traumatic events such as a car accident, natural disaster, attack, rape, physical, psychological, or sexual violence in childhood or even in later life. A traumatic event may also be the death of a loved one, information about a serious illness, or witnessing a tragic event.
Symptoms of people who have experienced trauma include:
- Sleep problems
- Panic attacks
- Concentration problems
- Intrusive thoughts and behaviors
- Eating disorders
- Depressive states
- Suicidal thoughts
- Difficulties maintaining relationships with others
- Outbursts of anger or aggression
Talking to a psychotraumatologist can facilitate the identification of the source of symptoms, especially considering that everyone experiences trauma in a different way and some symptoms may not be very specific.
Why can’t trauma be ignored?
Trauma and trauma-related symptoms do not go away on their own and can even worsen. Specific risks are associated with neuroses, depression, self-harm, and suicide attempts. Even if severe post-traumatic symptoms do not develop, the quality of life of the traumatized person significantly decreases.
Psychotraumatology – what methods are used?
Based on psychological consultation for a person suffering from trauma, it is possible to choose a suitable type of therapy based on psychotraumatological knowledge. Much depends on the type of disorder. Some forms of post-traumatic stress disorder are treated as part of short-term psychotherapy:
- Exposure therapy – based on confronting the patient with traumatic events from the past with the aim of gradually reducing negative reactions and symptoms
- EMDR therapy – an approach that focuses not only on talking about trauma but also on stimulating the brain, usually by eye movement, sound impulses, or tapping
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
In the case of dissociative disorders, long-term treatment is needed based on initial symptom relief and then gradual implementation of subsequent treatment phases and trauma processing. If necessary, the psychotraumatologist works with a psychiatrist, which supports the therapeutic treatment process with pharmacotherapy.