Psychologist Questions Family Therapy

How can I help my daughter recover from accident trauma?

My daughter survived a fatal road accident one year ago where two of her friends died. Ever since the accident, my daughter is in a state of shock and panics even at the slightest sudden sound. She was seeing a therapist for 6 months but then stopped. How can I help her get out of this trauma?

15 Answers

Find a therapist who can provide EMDR treatment for her trauma.
Dear Sir/Madam:
 
I am so sorry that your daughter had to suffer the loss of her two friends in such a traumatic way. Furthermore, trauma of herself having been in that accident and survivor's guilt can take a big toll on a person. The sounds of the crash may still be affecting her adversely. No wonder she panics at the slightest sound! I wish she had not stopped therapy. As post-traumatic stress can be devastating. Has she gone through Hypnotherapy? It may be of immense help in recovering from the trauma and in saying goodbye to her friends. She may benefit from Dr. Kubler Ross' boos "on Grief and Grieving" and "The Tunnel and the Light," especially from "The Dougy Letter." Just be there for her as she may also fear losing her parents and other loved ones after losing her friends.
 
Take care,
 
Dr. Sonpal
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Your daughter suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. P.T.S.D. It occurs after a trauma and the symptoms are nightmares, flashbacks, hyper-vigilant behaviors, startled response (startles easily), and dissociation (spacing out). Recovery time is different for every individual. Psychotherapy is very helpful as part of the recovery is cognitively processing the trauma. The best help you can do is to continue emotionally supporting and validating her feelings.
Get her back in therapy! If she doesn't like the person she was seeing, interview more.
Early attachment trauma makes later-in-life-trauma worse. In other words, if a child had insufficient attachment or broken attachments in the first three or four years of life, then that grown child, next to a securely attached grown child, would have a harder time in the trenches in war or in rape. So, first question: Was she securely attached in early childhood. Second question: did she see a trauma therapist? You can't heal trauma just by talking about it. And, trauma victims don't like talking about it.
As a trauma therapist, I would suggest that she try therapy again. With a known expert in treating trauma. This is a very particular area of treatment which includes several known skills (EMDR, CBT, hypnosis) that can be very healing.
Meditation, mindfulllness and yoga may also be a help. Good luck!
Find a psychotherapist who specializes in trauma from injury as well as emotional trauma, certified and licensed. Not all therapists are qualified in trauma. Also, find a therapy group for individuals who might struggle with similar symptoms.
Sometimes creative expression, and visual narratives can reduce fears, as well.
There are several techniques now for treating trauma such as Cognitive Processing Therapy, EMDR, Prolonged Exposure Therapy, and Stress Inoculation Therapy. Some medications are also now being used so seeing a psychiatrist may be helpful.
It would be helpful for her to continue counseling. If she does not feel connected with the counselor she can try someone else. Dr. G
Encouraging her to focus on her personal strengths helps mitigate fear. First, having her see how strong she is how brave she is to slowly approach the memories of the accident and also encouraging her to honor her friends by establishing a tradition where the memory of them is positive and respectful when she thinks of them rather than staying stuck in fear or
anxiety. Balancing treating trauma simultaneously with strength focus helps to treat.
She needs support from family and friends and a safe environment where she finds demands familiar and predictable. She may benefit from psychotropic medication to reduce reactivity and hyperarousal. Meditation, visualization, and yoga can decrease anxiety and depression and calm the mind and body. Physical exercise can help release stress. She should give herself opportunities to feel and express the emotional pain associated with the accident and the loss of her friends. Constructive outlets include creating art, writing in a journal, talking to a person she trusts, or simply crying someplace she feels safe. Over time, this process leads to acceptance of what she cannot change in the past and increased ability to focus on the positive aspects of her current life and what she can enjoy and accomplish now.
As a trauma specialist I can say that it is important for your daughter to see a therapist who specializes in trauma. Many different methods are available. So choose someone who can evaluate which is best for her.


Medication usually isn’t required- but could be.

Good luck!

peace, Marian

Marian K Shapiro
Licensed Psychologist
She needs closure in some manner. If a therapist isn’t working, she needs to go to another therapist or even go to s good medium who might be able to give your daughter closure. Sounds unethical but I study many different things and this is a real deal and those who passed away from the crash, might come through to her
She appears to be having PTS. Have her return to psychotherapy with a psychologist experienced in trauma and PTSD.
Sounds like such a tough situation for your daughter. I would encourage you to take her back to the therapist to continue to process her losses and get back comfortable with her daily environment. Her therapist may also determine whether she could benefit from a grief or trauma group.