According to the research done by the World Mental Health Survey Consortium titled ‘The epidemiology of traumatic event exposure worldwide', at least 75% of people will experience a traumatic event in their lifetime. Despite what one might believe, trauma is not a floating emotion that affects our lives and leaves when the situation ends or gets in control, trauma usually has an incredibly pervasive effect on the lives of those affected. Going through traumatic situations not only brings grief, pain, and turmoil in the moment, but it can also alter someone’s personality and quality of life, and leave behind a multitude of unresolved issues in its wake. Trauma can be defined in various ways, and there is no one set type of trauma or one way that people will respond to a traumatic event. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition. trauma is exposure to actual or threatened events involving death, serious injury, or sexual violation in one or more ways.
Processing trauma can be extremely difficult and painful. In fact, in some cases, processing trauma can even be re-traumatizing as one delves back into the traumatic events that are normally suppressed. Due to the tricky and complex nature of trauma, dealing with it requires trauma therapy. Trauma-focused therapy is a specific approach to therapy that recognizes and emphasizes understanding of how the traumatic experiences impact a person’s mental, behavioral, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. This type of therapy is rooted in understanding the connection between trauma and a person’s emotional and behavioral responses. Trauma-informed care is an empathetic approach to psychotherapy that assumes that an individual is more likely than not to have a history of trauma. Trauma informed counselling recognizes the presence of trauma symptoms and acknowledges the role trauma plays in an individual’s life. This type of counseling requires a system to make a paradigm shift from asking ‘What is wrong with this person?’ to ‘what happened to this person?’
A trauma-informed approach to therapy strives to understand the whole of an individual who is seeking therapy. When trauma occurs, it affects a person’s sense of self, their sense of others, and their beliefs around the world. These beliefs can directly impact a person’s ability or motivation to connect with and utilize support services. A trauma-informed therapist realizes the direct impact that trauma can have on access to services and responds by changing policies and procedures and practices to minimize potential barriers. Trauma therapy understands and considers the pervasive nature of trauma and promotes environments of healing and recovery rather than practices and services that may inadvertently re-traumatize the patients.
Trauma informed counselling is based on five guiding principles: safety, choice, collaboration, trustworthiness, and empowerment. Ensuring the physical and emotional safety of a person is addressed is the first step to trauma-informed care. Next, the person needs to know that their therapist is trustworthy. Trustworthiness can be evident in organization and consistency of boundaries and the clarity of what is expected in regards to tasks. Additionally, the more choices a person has and the more control they have over their therapy experience through a collaborative effort with their therapist, the more likely they are to participate in services and tasks. Finally, focusing on a person’s strengths and empowering them to build on those strengths while developing stronger coping skills lay the health foundation for individuals to fall back on if and when they stop receiving therapy.
According to a study titled ‘The burden of mental disorders across the states of India: the Global Burden of Disease Study: 1990-2017’, one among every seven people in India has a mental disorder, ranging from mild to severe. From major earthquakes in the western state of Gujarat to tsunamis and cyclones in the eastern state of Tamil Nadu and Odisha, to political turmoil in northern Kashmir, and an ever-rising income, social, political, and gender inequality among society, India has seen its fair share of traumatic events in the current millennium. While the Indian mental health services have undergone exceptional development over the past seven decades, there still remains a disparity between the large population of people suffering through traumatic events and those who have access to available services. This showcases the dire need for a trauma informed therapist in India.
To bridge this gap, Aanchal Narang, a trauma informed therapist in India, founded Another Light Counselling, a mental health organization that specializes in trauma, gender, sexuality, addiction, and kink-affirmative therapy. Counselors at Another Light Counselling focus not only on the behavior someone is trying to change but also on the underlying reasons for the behavior and the relief it provides currently. They focus on behavior, beliefs, and desired relief so they can do repair work at the deepest level to make a long-lasting positive change in the client’s life. Another Light Counselling fully integrates knowledge about trauma into all aspects of mental health services and trains staff to recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma and thus avoid any possibility of re-traumatization.