Conclusion And Contraindications

Obviously, there are powerful humanitarian reasons to try to help the traumatized as soon as practicable. This is especially so in the case of the major disasters. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the majority of people who experience traumatic or critical incidents recover within four to six weeks. Therefore, in most cases, early intervention is either uncalled for or is likely to be counter-productive. It is a psychological process that is akin to grief in that it is a normal human reaction to a distressing event and one that simply has to be "gone through." Emotional pain, like physical pain, is sometimes an unpleasant but a necessary response. Therefore, in many cases the best treatment for the traumatized person is often to do nothing! However, it is very common to hear on the news that after a particular traumatic event has occurred "counselors were immediately made available." This might be comforting to the authorities and probably to the rest of us, all of whom want "them to do something." Whether this is always actually helpful is far from clear!

As psychotherapists, we too will find ourselves under urgent pressure to rush to the aid of the critically traumatized and here I am particularly referring to those affected by immediate, high-impact, highprofile events. The question that we have to ask ourselves, as ethical therapeutic practitioners, is, "Can we find the strength within ourselves to sometimes refuse to respond to a plea for help?" After all, what did the Javanese fishermen who lost their livelihoods in the 2004 tsunami disaster need most—psychotherapy or new boats?


Bessel, A., Van Der Kolk, McFarlane, C. & Weisaeth, L. (1999). Traumatic Stress: Effects of Overwhelming Experience on Mind. Body & Society. London: Guilford Press.

Dyregrov, A. (1997). The process in psychological debriefings. Journal of Traumatic Stress, (10)4.

Hartman, F. (2000). Adventures in EFT: The Essential Field Guide to Emotional Freedom Techniques. Brighton: Starfields.

Mitchell, J. (1983). When disaster strikes. Journal of Emergency Sendees, 8,36-39.

Mitchell, J. (2004). A response to the Devilly and Cotton article. Australian Psychologist, 39, 24-28.

Scott, M. & Stradling, S. (2006). Counselling for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. London: Sage.

Shapiro, F. (2001). Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing: Basic Principles, Protocols and Procedures, New York: Guilford Press.

Warren, M. (2006). From Trauma to Transformation. Carmarthen: Crown House Publishing.

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