How to Decide if You Need Counselling after a Trauma

How to Decide if You Need Counselling after a Trauma

If you have been affected by a traumatic event, only you can decide if you need counselling.  But, how can you be certain?  Dr Laura Coleman was kind enough to provide this guide in support of her appearance on Episode 5 of Stereo-Typed.

counseling counselling

Guest Contribution by Dr Laura Coleman (re-posted with permission.)

TW: mention of traumatic events

During my years of private practice, I met at least five seriously traumatized people [attempted murder, drive-by shootings, and sexual assault] who didn’t need counselling help. This puzzled me and went against common knowledge. I spent considerable time looking at this and thinking deeply.

Your pain is always looking to come out

The first principle of healing from trauma is that your pain is always looking to come out. This is a healthy dynamic. When your pain pours out, and a person who cares hears you, you heal. As frightening and painful as this is, this replaying of difficult events is the normal way your mind tries to heal itself.

  • What can we learn from the five people mentioned above?
  • How can we model ourselves after them?

They found a way that fit their personality to share their feelings. Instead of shutting down, the five non-counseling people talked and talked. They didn’t say, “I’m okay. I want to put this behind me.” They journaled, they cried, they drew pictures or wrote poetry and they described, in great gory detail, all the events of their trauma to anyone who would really listen.

Those five people had people surrounding them who wanted to hear the painful details of their trauma. Here are the characteristics of their friends and family members. Loving, caring, ordinary, supportive and friendly. They brought flowers, cookies, cards, and visits to the home and hospital. Not only did they listened and commiserated, but they also had attention to give that was free from their own burdens, and the ability to listen and hear without judgment or blame.

That is what made the difference for them. They trusted their feelings. They put one foot in front of the other and did what was in front of them. All had a wealth of supportive friends. And each person allowed the people who loved them to nurture and help them.

If you do not have the skills, your mind will block the feelings

The second principle is that if you do not have the skills to go through this, your mind will block it out…sort of. If you are too young or your upbringing did not permit you to develop self-support skills, your mind will attempt to protect you from really falling apart.

Unfortunately, blocking ends up creating a problem for people. In my opinion, this avoidance of their feelings, even as it is a self-protection, creates a condition requiring some form of mental health care.

Key factors that indicate improper functioning

There are clues to tell you if you need help. You might experience one or more of them. And they continue happening for several weeks. The key factor is whether or not your experiences are causing you problems in functioning.

You may want to consider professional counselling if you:

  1. find yourself losing the joy in your life.
  2. start to feel sad, hopeless and helpless to do anything about your problems.
  3. feel stuck and unable to move forward in your life.
  4. have no one to talk to about the feelings you experience.
  5. (your) thoughts about what has happened are now getting in the way of your job, relationships and other important matters in your life.
  6. are having regular and ongoing trouble sleeping that is different from your normal.
  7. begin to have difficulties with food either over or undereating.
  8. begin to torment yourself with feelings of imperfection or guilt for what has happened.
  9. find yourself very jumpy and respond to every noise or interruption by being startled.
  10. become more irritable and angry than normal.
  11. start taking excessive risks that are outside of your usual behavior.
  12. find yourself being impulsive and taking actions without thought.
  13. begin to ruminate and think excessive about people who have been harmed or died.
  14. contemplate suicide and make a plan.

This resource is re-posted with permission of the author.  You can find the original posting on (FetLife).  I hope that this guide will assist you in determining whether or not you require professional counselling.

Guest Author Bio:


Laura Coleman

Dr Laura Coleman is retired from private practice as a Marriage, Family and Child Therapist, Board Certified Counsellor and Certified Clinical Mental Health Counsellor. She now works in her secure online office as a Life Coach, Life Skills Educator and Certified Hypnotist. As a therapist, she specialized in the therapeutic treatment of adults and children who experienced abuse and/or traumatic life events. She developed an out-patient treatment program for adults who were abused as children and successfully ran this program for many years.

After retirement, Dr Coleman has become a prolific writer on topics such as trauma recovery, BDSM safety, protecting yourself from predators, personal growth, self-esteem, changing your personal patterns, and improving your relationships. You can find her writings on FetLife as well as on her website. She has presented at her local dungeon, The Mark, on topics such as identifying predators and learning to say “no”. As an educator, she led many discussions for The Mark’s Kinky Roundtable and presented at a local MAsT group meeting.

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