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Psychological trauma

What is a traumatic event?

A potentially traumatic event is any distressing incident that involve an actual or perceived threat to the life or physical safety of an individual.
Examples are: war, natural disasters, accidents, physical violence, sexual assault, rape, torture, acts of terrorism, and others.
The same type of event may affect different people in different way, and the impact of the traumatic event on developing PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is highly individual.

Symptoms of psychological trauma

Symptoms can be physical, cognitive, behavioral and very often emotional.

Physical symptoms of trauma:

  • Alertness
  • Fatigue, exhaustion
  • Sleep issues
  • Pain

Cognitive symptoms of trauma:

  • Intrusive thoughts and memories of the event
  • Flashbacks, Nightmares
  • Poor concentration, poor memory
  • Confusion

Behavioral symptoms of trauma:

  • Avoidance of places or activities that may remind about the event
  • Social withdrawal, isolation
  • Loss of interest in normal activities

Emotional symptoms of trauma:

  • Fear, anxiety, panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Guilt
  • Anger, irritability

As long as the symptoms above are not too severe or last too long, they are normal reactions to trauma and they may settle after some time, in most people.
However, some people develop more serious conditions such as chronic depression, PTSD, anxiety disorders, or alcohol and drug problems. It is very important that they receive psychological treatment so the conditions do not develop further, and the person can enjoy life at full again.

Treatment for psychological trauma

Research shows that trauma-focused psychological therapies, including EMDR and PEEFT, are successfully used worldwide for trauma and PTSD.

What is EMDR?
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a powerful psychological treatment that has been used effectively for over 20 years in a variety of international settings and cultures with many different types of psychological distress.
EMDR has been endorsed by a number of international organisations as the treatment of choice for PTSD, including:

  • World Health Organisation (WHO)
  • The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies
  • National Health and Medical Research Council
  • American Psychiatric Association
  • US Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense
  • Northern Ireland Department of Health
  • Dutch Guidelines of Mental Health Care
  • Israel National Council for Mental Health
  • Clinical Division of the American Psychological Association

What is PEEFT?
PEEFT stands for Process Experiential Emotion Focused Therapy, and it is based on the theory that emotional experiences become problematic when ignored, dismissed or dysregulated by trauma.
By employing PEEFT techniques, psychologists can help clients gain insight into their emotional processes, and develop Emotional Intelligence, in the context of the safe therapeutic relationship, thereby helping clients deal with the traumatic events.


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The information on this page has been sourced from: Australian Psychological Society (APS) and the EMDR Association of Australia (EMDRAA)