Common barriers to trauma recovery

Experiencing a traumatic event can have a profound impact on a person. That is, from their physical and emotional well-being to their everyday life. Most people’s recovery from a traumatic event occurs within days or weeks by using their usual coping strategies and seeking support from others. However, there are a small number of people who feel shaken up and upset by the traumatic event for months and even years. 

Luckily, there are psychological therapies that have been scientifically shown to help people recover from the impact of trauma. These therapies help people to process their experience of a traumatic event. By doing so, they can reduce their symptoms of trauma, improve their mental health, and return to their everyday lives. 

Despite the benefits, many people face barriers that prevent them from seeking treatment for their trauma. Here are some of the most common barriers to trauma therapy we hear from our clients: 

Fear of reliving the trauma

Some people may be reluctant to engage in therapy. They fear it will force them to relive their traumatic experiences. They worry that speaking about the event will be too overwhelming and painful. Some fear the experience will be too much, causing their symptoms to worsen. 

In fact, there are science-backed therapies that ask clients to focus on more than just the traumatic event. Instead, the focus is on the impact of the event on people’s current thoughts, feelings and behaviour. 

Fear of trusting a psychologist

Some traumatic events involve being betrayed or abused by someone close to you. Understandably, this might make a person fearful of trusting again. 

As psychologists, we understand this. We believe it’s important to choose the right psychologist and build a strong relationship before starting trauma therapy. 

Fear of being judged

Some people feel ashamed, embarrassed, humiliated, horrified or guilty about the traumatic event they have experienced. They feel scared to speak about what occurred as they are fearful that their psychologist may blame or judge them. In fact, a person’s thoughts and emotions about an event can be a powerful part of what makes it a traumatic one. 

Rest assured, psychologists know people to respond to painful experiences in ways they do not understand or regret later.

Fear that treatment won’t work

Some people are concerned that therapy won’t work for them. They are fearful of opening themselves up, only to go backwards in their recovery and feel worse than ever. They might fear losing the small amount of hope they have in life if the therapy does not work. 

As psychologists, we understand this fear and focus our efforts on helping our clients through the process of therapy, from start to finish. We help clients to decide on the right treatment for them, support them through the therapy, and monitor their progress to help them get the best outcome possible for them. 

We often work with people who feel overwhelmed and uncertain about undergoing trauma-focused treatment. These concerns are understandable given what people have been through and how hard they have worked to keep going following a traumatic event.  We hope that by addressing some of the common barriers to treatment, people can get the treatment they need. 

Further Resources

Phoenix Australia, the Australian National Centre of Excellence in Posttraumatic Mental Health, has published the Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Acute Stress Disorder, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, and Complex PTSD (2021). The Guidelines provide a range of helpful factsheets and videos on trauma and its treatment.

The Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) Australia website provides information on CPT and a directory of local CPT accredited practitioners.

The EMDR Association of Australia website provides  information on EMDR and a directory of local accredited practitioners. 

The team at Headstrong Psychology is trained and experienced in working with people who have experienced trauma. If you would like to explore our team and the treatments we use, please get in touch on 0431 998 351.

Trauma & PTSD

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7/01/2024

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Common barriers to trauma recovery

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