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Trauma Counseling


Courses Included



Trauma is a destroyer that destroys people’s dreams and brings many to a point of total despair. Indeed, our country and its people can be described as a traumatized society. In this course we focus on the one hand on the causes, characteristics and effects of trauma, and on the other hand on a number of practical and pastoral guidelines for counselling and supporting trauma victims.

The structure of this course is the following:


CHAPTER 1: RELEVANT FACTS                 

  • The History of trauma research                                            
  • First World War                                                                               
    • Second World War                                                       
    • Korean- and Vietnamese Wars                                              
  • Healing involves man in totality                                        
    • Discussion of important healing terminology                
  • Man is downgraded to a mere research object     
  • The beginning of alternative medical science     
  • Salvation and healing: two sciences that moved away from each other     
    • The relationship between theology and psychology                
  • Reaction on the fragmentation of the individual     
    • Conclusion


  • A definition of trauma                                                                
  • The fragmentation of basic assumptions               
    • The assumption that I would be pardoned from pain and trauma
    • The assumption of rationality                                                       
    • The victim’s sense of morality      
    • The assumption of self-identity                                             
  • The different phases of a traumatic experience     
    • The pre-impact phase      
    • The impact phase (First phase)                                                       
    • The reaction phase (Second phase)                
    • The withdrawal- or avoidance phase (Third phase)      
    • The integration phase (Fourth phase)                                              
  • Important perspectives regarding the typical grieving phases     

 CHAPTER 3: POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER                                  

  • What is PTSD?     
  • What causes PTSD?                                                                
  • Suppression of memories                                                                
  • Psychological numbing and emotional anaesthesia     
  • The duration of PTSD     
  • Triggers                                                                                    
  • Different trigger categories                                                      
    • Visually                                                                                         
    • Sound (Auditory)                    
    • Smell (Olfactory)          
    • Taste (Gustatory)          
    • Physically and bodily          
    • Important dates and seasons          
    • Stressful events          
    • Strong emotions          
    • Thoughts          
    • Behaviour          
    • Out of the blue                    
    • Combinations          
    • Dreams          
  • Dissociation                                                                
    • Graphic representation of dissociation                    
    • Emotional damage during the childhood years          
  • Mood Disorders               
    • Depression          
    • Anxiety                    
    • Hostility                                                                                         
    • Avoidance          
    • Grief as a result of losses                    
  • Impulsive behaviour     
  • Physical and somatic (bodily) complaints                                             
  • Over-compensation     
  • Recurring compulsive behaviour     
  • Self-prejudiced behaviour     
    • Expression of pain that can’t be verbalized          
    • An effort to transfer/project emotional pain to physical pain                                        
    • It brings relief                    
    • It is a way to know ‘ I’m still alive’                                                 
    • It makes the body to look unattractive          
  • Other addictive- and self-destructive behaviour     
    • Eating disorders          
    • Prostitution, pornography and sexual misconducts          
    • Compulsive Gambling          
    • Re-victimization          
    • Addiction          
    • Workaholism                    
  • Alexithymia     


  • The immune system               
  • Interaction between body and spirit     
  • Examples of illnesses that are stimulated by suppressed trauma
    • Coronary heart diseases          
    • Cancer                    
    • Peptic ulcers and intestinal inflammation          
    • Tuberculosis                    
    • Asthma          
    • Essential Hypertension                                                           
    • Arthritis          
  • Examples of negative effects that intense emotions can have
    on the body                                                                

    • Shock and horror          
    • Inability to forgive, bitterness, wrath and hatred          
    • Loneliness/rejection          
    • Anger and frustration          
    • Anxiety, fear and worry          
    • Feelings of guilt          
    • Grief, pain, loss, separation and trauma                    
    • Emotional stress          
  • The Holmes- and Rahe Stress Scale


  • Memorializing our pain                         
    • The importance of the Holy Communion     
  • Revisiting the place where the trauma happened               
  • The importance of telling our story                                            
  • The importance of reliving the trauma                         
  • The four steps as proposed by Dr Merlé Friedman     
    • Tell what happened                                                                     
    • Deal with feelings of guilt and remorse                    
    • Normalize the symptoms          
    • Regain control
  • Secondary trauma
  • Seven principles of healing (G R Schiraldi)
    • Healing begins when we are able to apply certain techniques to
      handle the symptoms of PTSD
    • Healing takes place when traumatic memory is processed and
    • Healing takes place when avoidance is replaced by confrontation
    • Healing takes place within a climate of safety and pacing
    • The journey to healing is promoted through emphatic awareness
      and acceptance of feelings                                                      
    • Balance in our lives enables healing                              
    • Efficient boundaries enable healing          
  • Aspects that confirm the healing process               

CHAPTER 6: PRAYER SESSION                                     

  • The importance of a prayer for healing                    
  • Ways in which we can come into contact with our own emotions
    • Guard against exaggerated rationalism          
    • Using photos                                                           
    • Undertaking trips                                                            
    • The importance of a counsellor
    • Role playing
    • Memories and feelings must be experienced/owned          
  • Establishing a prayer session               
    • Remind the person of the aspects of prayer that are fundamental to the healing of memory
    • Explain the process of the prayer
    • The opening prayer of the counsellor          
    • Accompany and encourage
    • It is often necessary to pray together with the counselee and to
      refer to ‘us’
    • Asking questions          
    • Going back to previous situations          
    • Forgotten detail comes to mind
    • Allow Jesus Christ to minister to people regarding their past
    • Help people to forgive themselves
    • Help them to forgive others
    • Concluding comments and arranging follow-up sessions 

CHAPTER 7: TO FIND MEANING AGAIN                         

  • To find meaning in the midst of our pain
  • Diagram of the customized square root
    • Appropriate Scriptures          
  • It is important to see the bigger picture
  • The role of pain
  • Darling’s graphic representation of spiritual growth and development 

CHAPTER 8: PRACTICAL GUIDELINES                                                        

  • Steps to be taken after a disaster/trauma
    • What you could do for yourself
    • What you could do for your family members and other people
    • Normal reaction to expect
  • Warning signs of trauma-related stress
    • Certain initial reactions after a disaster/trauma                    
    • Some later reactions
    • The particular effect on children          
    • Some common signs of stress reaction
    • Physical signs                    
    • Cognitive signs                              
    • Emotional signs                              
    • Signs that are related to behaviour                         


  • Physical exercise               
  • Healthy eating- and drinking habits
    • Alcohol                    
    • Caffeine
  • Building blocks of nutrients                                                 
  • Rest, recreation and holidays
    • A more relaxed approach
    • Take regular walks at beautiful and safe places
    • Begin to again practice the ‘joy’ that you left behind
    • Did you know that to smile helps?
    • Don’t forget to play
  • Rearrange priorities                                                            
    • Urgent matters
    • Important matters                    
    • The value of a pet
    • The value of a hobby                              
    • New goals          
  • The support system must be in place                         
    • How much emotional ‘weight’ do you carry
    • You can’t solve everybody’s problems
    • Apply the approach that “I” (together with the Holy Spirit) will regain control over my life
  • The importance of spiritual growth and church involvement
    • Attending church services
    • Learn to dialogue with God
    • Positive self-communication
  • Widening your circle of involvement 


  • The quality of our existing relationships
  • A pure faith basis                              
  • Hopeful determination
  • A large enough life frame
  • Reassessing my identity
  • Job satisfaction
  • To live at both sides of the street


APPENDIX 1:  Dissociation                                                                 

APPENDIX 2:  The Holmes- and Rahe Scale                                                 

APPENDIX 3:  The customized square root  154

APPENDIX 4:  Darling’s scheme                                               

APPENDIX 5:  Important Web addresses                                                      



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