What does the word “trauma” mean to you?
As a trauma therapist who supports different employees from all over the world, I’ve heard countless definitions over the years. Many of them assume that trauma can only result from a unique event that is recognisably shocking, such as being a victim of crime, or witnessing a major terrorist attack.
In reality, physical and emotional trauma can be caused by any number of life events, including those that may appear ‘harmless’ to those on the outside.
Trauma has no hierarchy
Simply, trauma is caused by situations or events that we personally find traumatic.
If that sounds vague, it’s because we all experience trauma in different ways. So, what might present as traumatic to me could seem like a minor, ‘everyday’ event to you.
It could be that you keep dismissing or downplaying something terrible that has happened to you, perhaps because you’ve been told to “just get over it”, or because you believe that other people suffer far worse. However, research shows that trauma has no hierarchy. As far as your brain is concerned, trauma is just trauma.
As an example, think about a glass smashing to the floor. There are many reasons why this could have happened: somebody innocently knocking it as they walked past, throwing it in a rage, or it slipping out of their hand while they were washing up.
The point is that it doesn’t matter how that glass ended up being smashed. The result is exactly the same.
Along with trauma from recent events, some people can experience the delayed effects of unprocessed trauma from childhood. Even members of the Royal Family are not immune to this: for example think about Prince Harry, who last year spoke publicly about the delayed effects of his mother’s tragic death.
Respectful, non-judgemental employee support
At Beyond EAP, we treat each and every employee we support with judgement-free respect and understanding.
We also take care to treat each one as the unique individual they are. Trauma is a highly personal and sensitive area of therapy, so although we do aim to cover certain areas, our session content is not standardised, or even sequential.
What our therapists will always aim to do is create a safe environment right from the start; one that minimises the employee having to re-tell their ‘trauma story’. This is because the brain cannot distinguish between real and imagined trauma, so the sympathetic nervous system will react, and the body will go into stress mode regardless.
(You can imagine the effect of re-living your trauma over and over again… it would be exhausting, leaving you feeling scared and drained – hardly an effective way to begin therapy!)
Once the employee feels secure in the knowledge that we won’t ask them to dredge up every detail of their personal trauma, we can focus together on what is most important.
Starting on a transformational path towards self-discovery, resilience (mental, physical, emotional, social, and spiritual), and post-traumatic growth.
This is the truth about trauma support.
To find out more about the bespoke employee support we provide at Beyond EAP, please get in touch.