Trauma and PSTD

I have developed a professional interest in Trauma since the early 2000’s. As a Psychologist in South Africa Trauma is sadly a part of private work. I started a PhD looking at Secondary/Vicarious Traumatisation in 2011 however my family and I decided to emigrate to the UK and my plans for my doctorate were shelved.

Trauma can take on many really disruptive forms: childhood abuse (sexual, emotional, physical), accidents, rape, war, crime and even relational trauma in the form of traumatic relationships and attachment wounds.

The model of trauma therapy that I use is very careful – so not to retraumatise the client. The client must first establish a really strong and trusting relationship with the therapist, in order to even start the trauma work. In addition the client must be familiar with and good at being able to calm him/herself down and regulate his or her emotions.

Only once those things are established do we begin to look at the trauma material, keeping the client in what is called the ‘window of tolerance’. Working with trauma can be hard but it also is one of the few models of therapy that appears to have a really good prognosis according to the research out there. There is something about being able to process the trauma material in an emotionally safe space with a therapist that is trusted that leads to a decrease in the PSTD symptomology.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at