A sudden, unexpected event such as a car accident may impact a person both physically and psychologically.

The impacts of trauma are very personalized, wherein two people experience the same event with very different results.  After a negative event one person may experience emotional dysregulation (distressing memories, flashbacks, jumpiness); and another may experience emotional dissociation (numbness and self-isolation).

The majority of individuals exposed to potentially traumatic events experience post-traumatic symptoms and recover very shortly afterwards.  Typically within the first month or so, symptoms tend to gradually improve.

However, in some cases, the symptoms can increase over time, leading to heightened emotional and psychological distress; decreasing one’s overall functionality and sense of well-being.

At Parkway, we’re proud to offer clinical counselling services to people across the Westshore.

In some cases, the symptoms can increase over time, leading to heightened emotional and psychological distress; decreasing one’s overall functionality and sense of well-being.

This is called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition, DSM-5, (American Psychiatric Association, 2013), defines PTSD and its four clusters of symptoms, including: intrusive memories of the trauma, avoidance of trauma-related stimuli, negative changes in mood or cognitions, and arousal symptoms.

How Counselling Can Help Patients

  • Identify symptoms of PTSD: irritability, hyper-vigilance, intrusive thoughts, angry outbursts (verbal/physical) and the resulting impact on themselves and others (relationships)
  • Recognize negative/self-destructive behaviour patterns (such as excessive alcohol consumption); develop positive coping skills/mechanisms for managing stressful situations.
  • Address sleep hygiene and lifestyle changes.
  • Increase overall emotional and social well-being/ self-efficacy (happiness, belonging, and support).

Michelle Maxwell

Meet our clinical counsellor

Michelle brings her person-centred counselling approach to Parkway Physiotherapy & Performance Centre – following the work pioneered by Carl Rogers, very much meeting the client “where they are at” via unconditional positive regard.

Types of Counselling and Treatment Options

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT):  Helps patients learn to challenge any unhelpful thoughts about traumatic event(s) (overgeneralization, all-or-nothing thinking); developing new ways to think about problems and develop active solutions.

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT): Challenge and change unhelpful beliefs (cognitive distortions) that keep one “stuck in their traumatic story” by understanding and thinking differently about the event(s).

Cognitive Therapy (CT): Addresses the influence of cognitive distortions and maladaptive behaviours and how they presently impact the patient’s current level of functioning.

Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE): Confronting the source of the fear to reduce anxiety around it; overcoming avoidance which reinforces fear response and sustains/prolongs traumatic symptoms.

Narrative Therapy: Helps patient “re-author” the story (traumatic event (s)) by giving the experiences meaning; shaping how they see themselves and their experiences in relation to others (worldview).

Somatic Therapy: Aims to release pent-up trauma to relieve mental health symptoms and chronic pain, using methods such developing body awareness (breathing, mindfulness) and grounding in the body.

Psychodynamic Therapy: Helps patient to understand how early childhood experiences, family dynamics and current relationships- which may be shaped by trauma -affect ones current emotions, behaviours, and beliefs about the world.

Self-Care: Healthy diet, sleep hygiene, exercise, quality support (counselling rapport), mindfulness meditation.

Helping You Grow

Increasing management of thoughts and emotions, setting realistic graduated goals, active problem solving, and remaining hopeful are proactive strategies which may contribute to an individuals overall sense of well-being, health and quality of life.  (Post-traumatic growth).

Reference: Dr. Katy Kamkar, Psychology Works, Canadian Psychological Association, 2020

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