UKCP therapist Alivia Rose explores the psychological effects of unanticipated emotional trauma, before exploring how to deal with overwhelming feelings in the wake of life-changing events…
Sometimes, things happen that turn our world upside down. A bereavement, job loss and the pandemic are all significant and unexpected events that trigger waves of emotions that can feel crushing. So, how can we find ways to cope? How can we deal with these life-changing events and recover from the emotional trauma?
It’s important to remember that waves come and go. However, it’s useful to have a road map of what to expect – although everyone’s map will be unique. Generally speaking, we may experience anxiety and fear. When we are scared or worried, our mind can take us to the worst-case scenario.
We might feel anguish, upset and grief, asking the question: ‘Can I bear this pain?’. Or, we may feel anger and frustration, or denial – cutting ourselves off from what’s happening. We might even feel depressed, rendering us numb to give us a break from the pain.
Then, we can feel acceptance, when we are no longer ruled by our strong feelings. We begin to accept what has happened and find new strength.
How to deal with life-changing events
It may seem daunting to look at the roadmap, but the more we understand that these emotions come and go in their own sequence, the quicker the wave will pass over us. If we feel extremely fearful or isolated, friends and family can bring a sense of support and space that is necessary to process what we are going through.
However, there are times when those we love try to distract us or relieve our emotional waves. This can make us feel disconnected. If you are in need of support after a bereavement, job loss or any other significant event, psychotherapy can help you learn how to deal with these life-changing events and recover from your emotional trauma.
Psychotherapists are trained to support you at your most difficult time and offer understanding and assistance in finding ways to help you contain and understand your strong emotions. Emotions need to be expressed and acknowledged so they can pass. The psychotherapeutic space offers calm in the eye of an emotional storm.
Therapy for emotional trauma: what to expect
When a client first comes into my consulting room, they are usually ready to explore what is happening to them. The first thing I ask is what specifically brings them to therapy at this time. Then, they begin to open up.
As you start therapy and speak honestly about what is going on for you emotionally, sometimes for the first time, it can be unnerving. But, as a client starts to talk, I can see where they are in their cycle of emotions. I can then initiate a conversation about the emotional road map. This often reassures a client about my ability to understand them and hold them in the psychotherapeutic space.
As a psychotherapist, it is important that I articulate how normal it is to feel overwhelmed at certain times in our lives. Our work together aims to provide the space for free and frank conversation. Then, we can work through difficult feelings, realise that they are manageable and move to a happier state of being.
PODCAST: Find out more on how to recover from emotional trauma
Has a big life event caused you to feel a range of emotional states? Perhaps you have lost a loved one, been made redundant or feel at a loss in terms of your identity? UKCP’s Sarah Niblock and Alivia Rose discuss the cycle of emotions that come into play when a life-changing event happens that is out of our control, before exploring how to deal with these events and recover from the emotional trauma…