Almost everyone has experienced trauma at one time or another. So often when we hear that word, we think of a childhood trauma like physical or sexual abuse or of trauma caused during wartime. But a person can experience trauma from a fender bender and be afraid to drive or trauma from a home burglary that leaves the person afraid to be in their home.
When the traumatized person is not able to overcome the fear, it can exhibit as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia, social phobia or specific phobia such as fears of flying, heights or blood. These are ways of putting up a protective wall but do not relieve the fear.
Sometimes traumatized people are encouraged to "get right back up on the horse". This may actually cause further harm and the person may be traumatized again. In some case, individuals are so traumatized that they have trouble seeking help for themselves. It is always wise to seek professional help as soon as possible. Family members may have to help facilitate this. This may consist of brief psychotherapy of somewhere between twelve and twenty sessions. Medication may be prescribed including sleeping pills, anti-anxiety drugs and antidepressants. Medication is usually prescribed as part of a treatment plan to support the therapy.
Hypnotherapy is often used as an adjunct therapy to psychotherapy. Hypnosis may include: retrieveing traumatic memories, facing them and viewing them clearly in a broader perspective, recalling memories and working through the trauma that they caused, and creating new coping techniques to protect themselves as they leave the trauma behind. Most hypnotherapists will teach the client relaxation techniques which can be practiced whenever the client is anxious.
Self-help is also a way to deal with trauma. This may mean talking to an understanding person or someone who has actually shared the same experience. Group sessions and support groups are helpful in providing the encouragement and understanding the traumatized person needs.
Another self-help tool is to use a journal to write about the fears, anger and other negative emotions experienced because of the trauma. Writing down memories, feelings and nightmares helps to give new insights and understanding about the experience.
Self-talk is another way to deal with those traumas that limit everyday life. We talk to ourselves all the time. Reframe those negative thoughts into positive ones. If you focus on the negative, the fear will be reinforced. Rather than think to yourself, "Driving is dangerous. I might have an accident like last time", focus on the positive and tell yourself, "I will drive safely and cautiously and get there safely."
When it is time to get back on the horse, take small steps. If you are afraid of flying, just drive out to the airport and watch the planes. The next time, you might go in the airport. When you finally fly, take a short trip and experience how easily and comfortably you made the trip. Each time it will get easier.
We know that traumatic things happen all the time. People lose jobs. People die. Accidents happen. The stock market tanks. With the right tools including psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, medications, and self-help tools, it is possible to overcome the trauma and get on with your life.