• Dr. Jacob D van Zyl

Me and tree blog 24

by Dr. Jacob D van Zyl tel 013 752 2000

Practice@37A Ehmkestreet, Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, SA

BLOG (24/3) posted on 2019/06/03 – check this blog for the next update in about two weeks to one month’s time

THE TREE EXPOSED TO A STORM : Handling and treatment of the person with post-traumatic stress

In the previous blog I emphasized the importance of reaching the phase of acceptance regarding trauma. In this blog I emphasize the handling and treatment of the person with post-traumatic stress – specifically regarding letting go of baggage.

Let go of your baggage

To talk about that which has hurt you forms an integral part of the process of letting go of your baggage en route to healing. In the early eighties Jeremy Irons, Robert de Niro and Liam Neeson played the leading roles in the film The Mission. There is a scene in this remarkable film where De Niro, accompanied by priests, is heading through the jungle to a mission station so that he can resolve the issue of having killed his brother. Symbolic of the emotional baggage he carries with him, he is carrying a bag containing various pots, pans and other strange objects through the jungle and up a cliff. It makes for a tragic scene: as he clings to this big, heavy bag, and refuses to let it go...Even though it makes it extremely difficult for him to walk and move through the jungle. The moment one member of the tribe cuts the rope and throws the bag off the cliff, is the moment when the priest can start to process his trauma: he experiences catharsis, he starts to make peace with himself and forgives himself…This is the point that you too need to reach – the point where you can cut loose the baggage which you carry all the time. To keep on walking with it can embitter you. It can cause isolation from the world and rob you of quality of life and full enjoyment of the good things that also happen to you. It can undermine your faith and prevent you from living your life to the full according to your faith.

Previously in a blog I mentioned the importance of talking about your trauma, to share it with someone you can trust. Otherwise the pain stays suppressed in your subconscious mind. The true underlying problem just grows bigger. It surfaces in the form of post-traumatic stress symptoms, haunts you and becomes a stumbling block in your daily functioning.

The problem faced by many traumatised people is that they find it difficult to talk – whether it be to members of their family, friends, the pastor, minister, therapist or even to God. The person does not want to be traumatised any further by the reactions of the people he/she talks to. Other people are often unsure about how to react to the things the traumatised person chooses to share. If for instance a woman was also raped during a robbery, it is very difficult for that woman to talk about it, thereby exposing her vulnerability. Some people also avoid talking to the traumatised person because they don’t know how to handle it. They feel they are not capable of handling it correctly.

"To let go" can also imply to "let it be"...

In the next blog I will discuss more guidelines in the handling of people with post traumatic stress by discussing the importance of: rapport, empathy, warmth and unconditional acceptance.

Feel free to send your questions regarding trauma to or contact my rooms at 013 752 2000 in order to make an appointment.


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