Stress Responses to Traumatic Experiences

Stress responses to traumatic experiences…

I recently ran a closed online workshop on the topic of ‘Finding Your Identity Amongst Trauma’, for female survivors of abuse. I really enjoyed meeting them and holding some space for support, solidarity, and whatever else was needed.

Part of the workshop included providing information on the neurophysiology of trauma, as in: how does trauma affect the body and brain?

Giving this information normalises the wide range of automatic stress responses to traumatic experiences that help us survive them. In turn we reduce blame, shame, and guilt that survivors are forced to carry in a victim-blaming society.

When I set up the Counselling Service at SARSVL I assessed 100 women. 99 of them had never been given this information from other health providers including GPs and therapists. The one woman who knew this had read it in a book. This is not good enough.

Survivors of any gender are often forced to keep silent about what’s happened, even if they speak out. Their truths are repeatedly skewed by oppression, disempowerment, disbelief, misinformation, and myths about abuse. Inaccessibility to specialist care (including being on waiting lists for indefinite periods of time) adds to this problem.

When the mental health system is inaccessible to most, we have a social responsibility as therapists to step into our communities. How can we step up as a profession to provide this essential support and information?

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