Dealing with trauma

When a traumatic event occurs, often without any warning at all, it can seem that life has spun out of control and can be difficult to manage emotionally and psychologically. Recovery often depends on an individual’s original psychological state, the nature of the traumatic incident and the need to feel safe or in control again; therefore not unexpectedly, recovery rates differ from case to case.

It is important that, when dealing with a traumatic event, one understands that a range of emotions may be experienced and that this is perfectly normal; you may have a sense of helplessness in which you feel vulnerable or not in control of your surroundings.

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More often than not, we go about our daily lives making plans for the future, whether today or the next day, without thinking anything of it and when this routine or these plans are shattered, we can find that life suddenly becomes frightening and uncertain, which can bring with it feelings of paralysis.

Often after a traumatic event occurs, we attempt to seek meaning in everything that has happened around us. We may replay the event in order to understand how it could have happened and the events leading up to the incident in an attempt to find a change in the established psychological routine. This may then be followed by much wondering and thinking: “If only…” or “what if…”

Such emotions or psychological states are completely natural and shouldn’t be dismissed. It is also perfectly normal to feel angry or seek to blame another or even ourselves. Feeling distraught, confused, helpless or grief-stricken are all feelings that are present when dealing with a traumatic event and are all valid states of being, even when others around you may not seem to understand.

At times we can often believe that we are immune to trauma and it is this belief that is shattered the most, leaving us feeling vulnerable. It is only once we come to terms with this idea that we can finally engage with the world once more and begin to return to normal life.

Many social work jobs are fully equipped to helping families come to terms with traumatic events and are usually the first responders when trauma occurs. Social workers are able to work with families dealing with trauma in their own homes and from thereafter. Social workers are also able to connect families with the appropriate sources and services, help you to regain control of your situation, help with any placement needs for children and helping families to gain access to food, funding, clothing and shelter.

Dealing with trauma need not be something you go through alone and a big part of social work jobs ultimately includes helping to normalise feelings and getting families the psychological assistance they need.

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