CBT for Psychological Trauma

Psychological Trauma is the emotional shock experienced following an extremely stressful or ‘traumatic’ event.  Events such as road traffic accidents and other accidents or acts of violence are known as ‘traumatic life events’.  They are often unexpected, unpredictable, overwhelming, highly life-threatening and can be extremely difficult to come to terms with.

One of the things that makes these traumatic events different from other, often anticipated major life events, is the magnitude and unexpectedness of the emotional shock that we experience – feelings of intense fear, helplessness or horror.  And it is the intensity of these feelings that can often overwhelm us and seriously disrupt our lives.

A traumatic event involves two elements; that you experienced or saw an event(s) that involved actual or potential death, serious injury or physical harm to yourself or someone else and that your response to this event was one of fear, helplessness or horror.  It also includes that these experiences culminate in a persistent avoidance of anything that reminds you of the traumatic event or you have a general numbness in three or more of the following areas:

  • You make great efforts to avoid any thinking or feelings related to the event, including speaking about it, avoid doing anything or going anywhere that reminds you of the traumatic event and that there are times when you are unable to recall potentially important elements of what happened to you
  • You might also experience a lack of interest in everyday activities and can feel separation from, and have difficulties in, maintaining relationships
  • And that the future holds little, if any, hope for you
  • Your startle response is exaggerated (you jump easily when your not expecting a noise, or when someone comes up behind you, for example)
  • And that you ‘re-experience’ vivid and disturbing recall of the traumatic situation whether through intrusive thoughts/images, flashbacks or nightmares


We have included an interactive Life Events Checklist which you are free to use, but please note, this is NOT a PTSD diagnostic tool.
Click here to view the checklist


What Does CBT For Psychological Trauma Help With

  • Flashbacks and intrusive images
  • Self injurious behaviours
  • Hypervigilence
  • Nightmares and Sleep disturbance
  • Understanding Shame and Self-criticism in
    relation to traumatic events
  • Understanding our reactions to traumatic life events
  • Dissociation
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Creating a perfect nurturer
  • Moving on with life
  • Restructuring how you think about the trauma event

Incorporating techniques such as:-

  • Stabilisation
  • Grounding techniques
  • Emotional regulation

Real Story


Getting into therapy was the best thing I did. I was lucky enough to have a great therapist who clearly knew about trauma. She taught me techniques to settle myself; my nightmares have gone and I'm getting a sleep, I'm back driving and on the motorway as well.