Urgent Need of Trauma Counselling

Trauma is a well known term for a very difficult or unpleasant experience that causes someone to have mental or emotional problems.
Urgent Need of Trauma Counselling
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Trauma is a well known term for a very difficult or unpleasant experience that causes someone to have mental or emotional problems. It can be an event that poses threat to dignity or lives, or it can be the emotional reaction to such events. However to define such term in Kashmir is wastage of time because everyone is familiar to it. Our youngsters have taken their birth in an environment of trauma and lived their life in trauma. The only difference now is that there is fluctuation in the degree of trauma which makes us think about it at times.

Kashmiri people have experienced, witnessed and suffered from rise in traumatic experience from past many weeks. During this period, some were directly affected by losing their loved ones, some suffered injuries, especially to eyes, many underwent surgeries, and some were indirectly affected. However individual's reaction to such traumatic experiences can be quite varied and unpredictable. Every person psyche as well as past experiences which affect current reaction to traumatic experience is unique. Some people heal with time, however for some the wound gets worse and can result in psychological problems. Common effects can be involuntary intrusive memories, persistent patterns of hyper arousal, sleep disturbances, avoidance and dissociation.

Keeping in mind the role of different variables in impact of trauma, such people are extremely diverse and the process of treatment cannot be fixed. To understand their grief needs an empathetic understanding which is beyond the capacity of ordinary person. This grief has got negative valence which spreads out from the victim to his family, neighbours and relatives. The hope of many parents who have brought up their children with lot of expectation got shattered all of a sudden when their son died or lost his eyesight and to adjust with this new change is not easily possible. So apart from the victims, we need to consider effects on other people who are surrounding them. We may find the affected people bargaining with the loss at present but it can go deep once they accept it. With the passage of time, the grief and effect of loss may penetrate into inner psyche of victims.  They may look back in anger, grief and disappointment. They may start blaming different people, especially themselves. 

Social pressures may rise and they can feel vulnerable to different external pressures. Disappointed parents may project their anger onto more accessible people. This can give rise to different defence mechanisms in the victim and may pretend to be much stronger than what he is and can deny the need of treatment. These things on the one hand show an immediate need of action from psychologists to prevent the rise of such emotional problems but at the same time it poses a big challenge because of their non receptive mood for any kind of psychological intervention. They may turn out angry on the counsellors which crisis intervention team in SMHS have already experienced. So the counsellors need to refresh their counselling skills so as to handle the emergency. They have to be very strong enough to accept their reaction with calmness. Overt expressions of anger, such as verbal outbursts, sarcasm, and unreasonable or persistent demands, should be recognized as an understandable response to a traumatic situation and not necessarily as a personal attack. Building of trust is very important for any intervention as such people have lot of apprehensions. Social support is very important for them so that these reactions are externalised rather than internalised. 

It is worth mentioning that crisis intervention team of GMC comprising of Clinical psychologists, psychiatrists and counsellors are active in providing psychological intervention to a lot many patients but such patients need to be followed as the problems may arise more with the passage of time. Different national and international NGOs were seen doing good job by providing their services so as to heal up wounds of affected people, but the need of the hour is also to heal up their psychological wounds which are not seen from the common eye. At the same time it is important that professionals who are providing help to needy people should take care of themselves and avoid such effects on themselves. 

(Dr Mohd Altaf Paul is lecturer Clinical Psychology at Dept of Psychiatry, GMC srinagar. Views expressed are personal) 

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