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  • Bill Petrie

What Do You Do If You Have Been Through A Major Trauma?

Traumatic experiences affect us very deeply.

In fact, they can negatively affect almost every aspect of our wellbeing.

If we are very lucky, time will heal us.

But, very often, time alone is not enough.

If you’re still experiencing symptoms of trauma a month after the event, it’s time to get specialised help.

How do you know if you're still suffering symptoms of trauma?

Well, if you have any of the symptoms below, you may well still be traumatised:

  • Feeling withdrawn

  • Finding it hard to focus or concentrate

  • Feeling anxious and jumpy

  • Feeling depressed or alone

  • Tending to avoid anything that reminds you of the trauma

  • Feeling numb inside

  • Finding it difficult to enjoy the ordinary things in life

  • Feeling spaced out

  • Feeling irritable - even angry

  • Finding yourself fighting with those you love

  • Finding that you’re using alcohol, food or drugs to numb your feelings

  • Finding yourself acting recklessly

  • Experiencing disturbed sleep

  • Having nightmares

  • Finding yourself reliving the trauma

Many of us who have been traumatised are reluctant to seek professional help.

Why is this?

Well, most of us who have been traumatised are scared that, if we talk about the trauma, it might bring up overwhelming feelings that we don’t want to feel ever again.

We’d rather avoid the issue.

Trauma specialists understand these feelings and make the process as easy as possible.

Trauma specialists also understand that many of us who have been traumatised feel ashamed – ashamed that we were traumatised, ashamed that we reacted the way we did, ashamed about what was done to us.

The reality is that any one of us can get traumatised – even the toughest of soldiers.

And, nobody should be expected to deal with the consequences of trauma on their own.

We are all vulnerable to trauma and, unless we get professional help, we are likely to stay stuck.

The good news is that there is effective help at hand.

And, to get it, you need to find a professional who has:

  • Extensive training in psychology, counselling or psychotherapy.

  • A specialist interest in treating trauma

  • And numerous tools at his or her disposal including EMDR.

Why a specialist interest?

Well, there has been enormous growth in the area of trauma over the last ten to twenty years and the literature is now so prolific that only someone with a specialist interest will tend to keep up.

Why extensive training?

Well, a trauma by its very definition, is an overwhelming experience that affects almost every aspect of our brain's functioning. After a trauma, our memories, our emotions, our body sensations, our flight, fight and collapse responses, our ability to focus and concentration, and many other facets are in disarray. It requires great skill to help someone function well again.

And, why do I emphasise EMDR?

Well, there is more scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of EMDR for treating trauma than any other method available.

EMDR is recommended by the British Government and by countless trauma centres worldwide.

Trauma specialists such as Bessel van der Kolk, the world’s number one expert on trauma and a professor of psychiatry at Boston University’s medical school, uses EMDR.

EMDR is very helpful because it is quick and effective and the experience of EMDR is considerably less intrusive and much less unpleasant than any talking therapy.

But, EMDR on its own is not enough.

EMDR is a superb treatment for a single trauma that occurred as an adult.

But, many traumas are more complex and that’s why we need numerous other tools in addition to EMDR for these traumas.

So, now you know what kind of professional to look for.

I have been working with trauma for more than thirty years and was deeply involved in the process of establishing EMDR in the UK.

Decades on, I never cease to wonder at how effective EMDR is.

EMDR uses your own brain to process the trauma so the experience of EMDR feels very natural and the processing goes far deeper than any talking therapy could.

Some of the more common causes of trauma that I work with include:

  • Muggings and armed robberies

  • Motor vehicle accidents

  • Violent assaults or the witnessing of extreme violence

  • Major surgery

  • Discovering that one has a severe illness

  • Near-death experiences

  • The unexpected death of someone close

  • And many others

Besides EMDR, my skills are wide and varied.

You can see some of my formal qualifications here: Qualifications.

You can see testimonials here: Testimonials

And, learn a bit more about EMDR here: EMDR

I work face-to-face in Cape Town and online with victims of trauma the world over.

And I offer a free 20-minute exploratory session to anyone who is seriously interested in getting treatment.

All you have to do is email me at and we’ll set that up.

So, if you are (or anyone you love is) still struggling, I am here to help.

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