Effects of Trauma on Clients and Mental Health Counselors

There are many events that may lead to trauma, some maybe manmade while others may be just natural events. Manmade disasters, as the vital causes of trauma, have always posted great challenges not only to the counseling community but also the concerned family members especially in learning the various ways in which theses trauma causing events affect the people involved. I will narrow the trauma causing events to only two, suicides and hurricanes as retrieved from the databases of Walden library. These events great negative impact to the subjects, their effects are felt differently by the affected individuals, the victims.  The counseling communities have been greatly challenged in learning more about how the events affect all the victims involved.

Victims of these trauma causing events are broadly categorized into two, the first responders and the survivors. The first responders as the name suggests are those individuals who are exposed to these events for their first time while the survivors on the other hand are the individuals who are still suffering from the effects of the tragic events that happen somewhere in the past. The events may call for admission of mental health care services which quite often are readily available during the times of these trauma causing events.

As stated earlier, the effects of these trauma causing events to both the survivors and first responders are unique to different individuals. However, the effects are considered to be severe to the first responders than the survivors (Shallcross, 2012).. For instance, hurricanes occur naturally, when it occurs, it causes a tremendous damage to personal property leading to so much loses that are as well accompanied by much mental anguish. Bell, Satcher and Friel in 2007 completed a study that revealed that 39 percent of those evacuated as a result of hurricane Katrina were reported to be experiencing moderate symptoms of Post- Traumatic stress while 24 percent showed very severe symptoms (Shallcross, 2012).

The separation from the community and family, demographic variables as well as lack of community support could have been the factors behind the post-traumatic stress experienced by these individuals On the other hand; suicide had been declared a national public health threat. In America, cases of 80 suicides are reported every year (Shallcross, 2012). About 1500 suicide attempts are reported every day. As a result of this, the community counselors have seen the need for the community to increase their ability to meet the needs of their relatives, friends as well as neighbors or discuss their needs openly showing concern and care to the potential victims.  Events like the hurricanes, to the survivors, the community counselors should emphasize on the need for people both the victims and non-victims to vividly understand that the survivors of these traumatic events frequently experience difficulties and problems in maintaining proper social relationships. They have problems in their own personal, social as well as material conditions. Counselors therefore have the role of addressing each of these with time, one after another.

Mental health counselors have roles to both the survivors and the first responders as stated earlier, these roles are not static, they are quite dynamic, calling for the mental health counselors to be able to adapt to the appropriate demands of these effects. These counselors therefore need to come with services that are geared towards assisting the victims to develop appropriate skills for coping so as to maintain some level of stability in dealing with these events. The frequency of the occurrence of these traumatic events is ever on the rise, these events occur on every level, the mental health counselors have therefore seen the need to come up with services that they provide communally in aftermath of these events as well as disasters. This called for the initiation of Disaster Mental Health services. This was done by the American Red cross.

As indicated by Harrison and Westwood, there several ways that a counselor can escape vicarious trauma (Trippany et al., 2004). These two people also indicated quite a number of successful strategies that can be employed by anyone to minimize the existence of these effects. However, they have also stressed on the need to understand that long time of working with trauma victims has a long lasting effect on the prospective counselor.

There are a number of strategies that can be employed to prevent the counselors from developing the VT or STS when handling the various trauma victims. These strategies among others include: stable personal relationships, personal psychotherapy, ability to employ the coping skills such as vacation, exercising. For instance how would a mental health counselor employ the use of personal psychotherapy to curb the effects of hurricanes? Personal psychotherapy would be aimed at discussing the victim’s inner thoughts about the situation, his or her personal perception about the event and the psychological preparations towards the effects. This will be done by the mental health counselor who will finally issue his/her counsel aligning it with the victims most thoughts.

In case of a suicide attempt victim, this will be aimed at discussing the personal needs of the victims, rational  evaluating reasons undermining the satisfaction of the needs driving some sense in the victim and probing the victims understanding as well as beliefs about suicide. The use of these strategies should also aim at preventing the counselor from vicarious trauma. Under most circumstances vacation has always been the coping skill for the victims of hurricanes, however, this skill has often possessed challenges to these victims. Counselors therefore have the duty to come up with services aimed at making the victims be able to adjust to the coping skills.

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