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Are you suffering with possible symptoms of trauma?

What is psychological trauma?

Trauma is a reaction to any event to which a person is connected that:

  • is unexpected
  • is outside their usual range of human experience
  • involves some form of loss, injury, threat of injury/death (whether actual or perceived.)

Types of Trauma

  • Childhood adverse events i.e. abuse, neglect
  • Single traumatic event (maybe life threatening) such as road traffic accident, assault, terrorist incident, child birth trauma
  • Multiple trauma over time such as death of patients/residents, several serious illnesses/injuries, domestic violence/abuse

Trauma Symptoms

In response to extremely stressful life experiences there are difficulties that individuals sometimes have after trauma. Some of the most common trauma symptoms can include:

  • Flashbacks or nightmares
  • repetitive and distressing images or sensations
  • depression/anxiety
  • irritability or angry outbursts
  •  panic attacks
  • feeling numb, spacing out or dissociating
  •  problems sleeping or relaxing
  • difficulty concentrating
  • negative thoughts such as shame, guilt, self-loathing, self-blame or self-doubt
  • physical sensations such as pain, sweating, stomach pain, chest pain, feeling sick or trembling
  • self-harming or destructive behaviour, such as drug misuse or alcohol misuse
  • suicidal thoughts or feelings

It may help to know that:

  • Most people experience trauma in their lifetime
  • Healing from trauma is a natural process
  • You are not weak or defective if you suffer with symptoms. They are normal reactions to an abnormal situation

How do I recover from trauma?

The natural healing from trauma can take several weeks after an incident. Symptoms are usually expected to subside and resolve themselves in time.

If you are still having symptoms after 4 weeks then speak to your GP about seeking medical advice or specialist trauma support.

If you have been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), then specialist psychological support such as Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) or Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (TFCBT) is needed.

To read more about how trauma might effect you, see Effects of Trauma on the website.


Get support with personal or work related issues such as stress, depression or relationship breakdown.

COVID-19 and your mental health

Advice and resources on how to look after your mental wellbeing during Covid outbreaks, with tips for self care.

COVID-19 and your mental wellbeing resources

You can find some great resources and information about where you can get extra support on our COVID-19 and your mental wellbeing page.

Looking after those who care for others

This recording is an edited version of a self-help session designed and delivered by a group of care home union reps and the RCN Member Support Services. It's designed to be used by RCN reps and individuals wishing to know more about psychological trauma.

Sarah Murphy and Tanja Koch, Clinical and Operational leads of the RCN Counselling Service, share key information about trauma which will help you recognise trauma reactions in yourself and others. They also talk about what it takes to recover from trauma, provide self-help tips, and explore what you can do to support others.

CHSA logo COVID-19 Healthcare Support Appeal via the RCN Counselling Service and Trauma based therapy

The RCN Counselling Service can no longer accept referrals for the externally funded trauma focused therapy service as all resources have been utilised. The service has been well received and was made possible by the COVID-19 Healthcare Support Appeal, which funds projects to support health and care workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.