Traumatic experiences are situations that we find overwhelming and frightening, and that are beyond our control. While some traumas are obvious, like accidents, injury, rape, and assault, other traumas can be more insiduous. Things like verbal abuse, workplace bullying, and difficult or abusive childhoods are also forms of psychological trauma.
Even if we look back on our childhood as 'not so bad', we need to take into account that what seems manageable to us as an adult might not have felt so to our younger self. And that childhood trauma does not have to be one big event, but can be ongoing difficult or abusive experiences.
Trauma is like a bug in the system. Even if our mind represses our memories and emotions, we will find we constantly have issues in life that just won't go away, and unhelpful behaviours we can't stop repeating despite our best intentions.
What is trauma counselling & psychotherapy?
At Harley Therapy London our trauma-informed therapists and psychologists are trained in officially recommended therapies for trauma, complex trauma, and PTSD/ c-PTSD. These includes trauma focused CBT and eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR).
All of our practitioners have minimum of ten years experience and training from a top institution, so you are in safe hands.
Symptoms to look for
Don't have flashbacks or nightmares? Not everyone develops classic trauma symptoms. And note that symptoms of trauma can develop weeks, months, or even years after the fact, and can look like:
- constant anxiety
- anger issues or emotional numbness
- ongoing or episodic depression
- always scanning for danger
- feeling edgy, jumpy, and irritable
- dissociation and inabiilty to focus
- guilt and low self-worth
- medically unexplained symptoms (MUS)
- eating disorders
- sleep problems
- destructive behaviours (overeating, unsafe sex)
- substance abuse
- relating and intimacy difficulties.
How can talk therapy help?
Trauma deeply affects our ability to trust, so therapy can at first feel uncomfortable. But your therapist is on your side, and with time you will see a diminishment of symptoms like nightmares and negative thinking. You will also get support for related mental health problems like anxiety and depression, and can start to feel more confident and able to navigate your relationships and life.
Our welcoming central London therapy clinics
Ready to work with a trauma counsellor who creates a safe, non-judgemental, and confidential space for you to explore your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours? We offer therapy for trauma at three central London locations. As well as our main clinic on Harley Street in W1, we also have therapy rooms at London Bridge (SE1) and near Liverpool Street (EC2).
If you’re unable, or prefer not to come for therapy in person, online therapy is another way to seek support from an accredited therapist with Harley Therapy. All therapists offer online therapy sessions using platforms such as Skype, Facetime, Zoom, etc.
Whether you're looking for a face to face or online appointment the booking process options are the same. Either find a therapist by browsing through the list on this page and book online, or call our experienced support team who will match you with a therapist who is best suited to your specific needs and book over the phone.
All therapy sessions last for 50 minutes and our fee structure is very simple.
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Further reading and resources
- Trauma therapy - what actually works?
- What does a traumatic experience do to your body and your brain?
- What are 'adverse childhood experiences' (ACEs) and is this you?
- How can I remember childhood trauma and abuse?
- What is 'trauma bonding' and is it keeping you in bad relationships?
- What is transgenerational trauma?
- Dr Helen Kennerly. 'Overcoming Chilhood Trauma - A Self-Help Guide' (2000).
Issues for Trauma Therapy
- bullying and discrimination
- burglary and general assault
- childhood trauma and neglect
- domestic violence
- long-term illness
- loss & bereavement
- personal injury
- rape and sexual assault
- sexual abuse
- surviving a natural disaster
- torture and emprisonment
- transgenerational trauma
- war and displacement.
Is trauma a mental illness?
No. Trauma is something that happened to you, not who you are, and trauma symptoms are not an illness. They are really a healthy response to an unhealthy situation. Your brain is trying to protect you from further trauma, it's just that it's doing so in ways that are not actually helpful in modern life, such as keeping you always on edge and ready to fight or flee.
What therapy is best for trauma?
It can depend on you and what trauma you lived through. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) here in the UK recommends cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which is also, for example, the therapy offered to veterans in America as it's evidence based for PTSD. Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) is also highly effective and recommended. But if your trauma was in childhood, such as sexual abuse, and it's left you with emotions that are all over the place and with troubles with relating and impulsiveness, you might want to try schema therapy or dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT). They help people who have borderline personality disorder (BPD), or who have found other therapies ineffective.
What happens during trauma therapy?
It depends on what sort of therapy you are trying. But often trauma-therapy is less focused on just talking over things like with psychodynamic therapies, and more focused on helping you 'reprogram' your brain out of stress mode. CBT does this by helping you recognise, question, and change your thinking, using your present over your past as a template. EMDR will have you discuss experiences a bit as you are moved through rapid eye movements, but it's in careful doses and you'll also discuss your present issues. Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is also more present-based, using things like mindfulness to keep you aware, and exercises where you work to gain control over your emotions and relate better.
What are the different types of trauma?
Trauma is an experience, and how we process a traumatic experience can be highly individual so comparing your own trauma to someone else's can sometimes be unhelpful. But you might hear trauma being divided into acute, chronic, and complex trauma. Acute trauma would refer to a single incident, like rape or assault. Chronic to trauma that goes on over time, like bullying or domestic violence. Complex trauma arises from ongoing traumatic experiences over time, usually in childhood, like a child who experiences sexual abuse and neglect or other things like poverty and abandonment.