Socrates Trauma Service
Post-trauma difficulties can arise in people of all ages following exposure to highly distressing events. It can often be assumed that this sort of difficulty is only experienced by people who are involved in extreme events such as military and front-line personnel or those who are present during atrocities or disasters, but this is not the case. While people in those roles are more vulnerable to developing post-trauma reactions, actually anybody who has a distressing experience such as a serious accident, assault, medical emergency, abuse, bullying, domestic abuse or birth trauma is at risk. This is not limited to being directly involved in the incident itself, as people who witness such events or those who are exposed to upsetting details can also develop difficulties.
Often, people who develop post-traumatic difficulties have no history of any other mental health problems. Others already experienced some difficulties before the traumatic incident occurred, and these can be exacerbated by the new trauma as well as it leading to the development of new difficulties. Many people have heard of PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder) but this is just one of the conditions that can arise.
Trauma conditions are treatable and we have some excellent therapies to do just that. If left untreated, difficulties can become more entrenched and can lead to additional problems such as depression, anxiety, relationship problems and substance misuse.
At Socrates, we have a trauma team of clinicians who specialise in assessing and treating psychological trauma with both children and adults. Our clinicians are able to give appropriate diagnoses if required and an individualised understanding of the difficulties. They use evidence-based therapies to enable clients to process their experiences, make sense of them and move on, leaving the trauma in the past where it most often belongs, without it continuing to intrude into their everyday lives.
Clinicians are aware that post-trauma symptoms sometimes exist alongside other difficulties such as low mood and anxiety, and they treat the whole presentation rather than just one aspect of it. Socrates clinicians can treat any sort of trauma, but we have particular experience of working with front-line, emergency and military personnel, birth traumas, aversive medical experiences, childhood abuse, domestic violence and serious road traffic accidents.
Various therapies can be helpful when working with trauma but those with the best evidence-base currently are Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (Trauma-focused CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR). These therapies are effective with both children and adults and are recommended by both the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE; this body advises the government on improving health and social care) and the World Health Organisation (WHO; an international group focusing on improving health outcomes). At Socrates, we use both of these therapies alongside other approaches that might also be helpful. Learn more about individual therapies.
Complex PTSD (C-PTSD)
Complex PTSD is a type of trauma difficulty that can arise following exposure to repeated traumatic events, sometimes but not always having taken place in childhood. Examples are severe neglect, physical/sexual/emotional abuse, bullying and domestic violence. With Complex PTSD, there will have been more than one traumatic event and sometimes there are many. Such events often occur in a situation in which the individual does not feel safe or from which they cannot easily escape. This can sometimes mean that the very place that should be the safest, such as their own home, school or workplace feels risky, meaning that they are on edge most of the time. Sometimes it is further complicated by being harmed or not protected by the very person or people who are supposed to care for you the most, such as parents or a partner. There are times when people do not have a clear memory of the adverse events that have occurred. Even if this is the case, therapy is still possible.
C-PTSD can affect a child’s development and can affect adult relationships with others as well as how the world is experienced. Sometimes people who have C-PTSD feel a strong sense of shame about their experiences and can hold themselves responsible, even though what happened was not their fault. C-PTSD has similar symptoms to traditional PTSD but in addition, there are wider difficulties such as with controlling emotions, low mood, connecting emotionally with others, sense of self, and low self-esteem with self-criticism. Because the symptoms are quite varied from one person to another, C-PTSD is often mistaken for other conditions by professionals.
At Socrates, our clinicians are knowledgeable about, and able to treat C-PTSD. They use various therapy models, which they are able to adapt and mix to ensure they are helpful with C-PTSD.
Children and PTSD
Children can experience the world differently to adults and this can mean that they are affected differently by events than adults are. Sometimes they can take a seemingly highly distressing event in their stride, and sometimes they can be affected by something that seems relatively mild to an adult. Children may also show their distress in some different ways to adults, so while many of the usual symptoms of trauma can be present, we sometimes see children pulling away and withdrawing or showing challenging behaviours when they have been affected. Teenagers in particular are at risk of using substances to manage their symptoms.
Socrates clinicians are experienced in working with children who have experienced trauma, and they use and adapt a mixture of therapies in order to do this in the most helpful way. This includes using CBT and EMDR in specially-modified ways to suit the child’s age and developmental level. Sometimes it is helpful to include parents/carers within this intervention and clinicians will do so as appropriate and with the child’s consent, often helping parents/carers to understand why their child is presenting as they are and giving advice as to the best way to help them manage the distress and symptoms.
For children who have complex backgrounds with many challenging experiences, such as those who may be in care or adopted, we have a specialist team who can help.
Assessing Trauma in the Legal Arena
Our Clinical Psychologists provide comprehensive and timely assessments of children and adults who have experienced aversive events, within the legal arena. They have many years’ experience in assessing individuals for personal injury claims including clinical negligence. They are able to provide diagnoses using DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition) and/or ICD-11 (The International Classification of Disease, eleventh edition). These are both manuals used by mental health professionals to diagnose disorders. Our Clinical Psychologists can comment on issues such as causation, prognosis and required intervention. Over the years, our Clinical Psychologists have been instructed by Claimants, Defendants and as Single Joint Experts. They have been involved in professionals’ meetings, produced joint statements and given evidence in court. We have received very positive feedback about the quality of our reports and giving of evidence.
CVs and terms and conditions can be provided on request.
Our Core Trauma Team
Dr. Leanne Tidsey
Consultant Clinical Psychologist
Dr. Rachel Varley
Consultant Clinical Psychologist
Ms. Mel Cox
Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist
We are also assisted by other members of our team who have specialist skills of their own.
The experience/s you have had might be the worst things that have ever happened to you in your life. It’s hard to talk about events like that and it may be that you haven’t been able to do so before.
We understand and we will listen.