Anticipating the impact of loss or trauma (to the extent than anyone can), and during and after the events of loss or trauma, each person has unique emotional experiences and ways of coping, of grieving and of reacting or not. Sudden, violent or unexpected loss or trauma imposes additional strains on coping. When a community is affected such as by disaster both the cost and sometimes the supports are greater.
Weeping, painful feelings of sadness, anger, shock, guilt, helplessness and outrage are not uncommon. These are particularly challenging times for children who may have had little experience managing strong affects within themselves or in their family. These feelings are all part of a natural healing process that draws on the resilience of the person, family and community.
Time and the comfort and support of understanding loved ones and once strangers who come to their aid, supports people healing in their own time and their own way. Research shows that resilience is ordinary rather than extraordinary. The majority of people who survive loss and trauma do not go on to develop PTSD. Some remain overwhelmed.
This article addresses counseling with complex grief and trauma, not only complex post-traumatic stress disorder but those conditions of traumatic loss and psychological trauma that for a number of reasons are enduring or disabling. For example, where an adult is periodically debilitated by unwelcome and intrusive recall of the sudden and violent death of a parent in their childhood.
The post-trauma self
Because of the interconnectedness of trauma, PTSD, human development, resiliency and the integration of the self, counseling of the complex traumatic aftermath of a violent death in the family, for example, require an integrative approach, using a variety of skills and techniques to best fit the presentation of the problem.
The post-traumatic self may not be the same person as before. This can be the source of shame, secondary shocks after the event and of grief for the lost unaltered self, which impacts on family and work.Counseling in these circumstances is designed to maximize safety, trauma processing, and reintegration regardless of the specific treatment approach.[