When one or both members of a couple have been involved in traumatic experiences, the capacity of the couple to meet the challenges of the impact of trauma can be compromised. Trauma not only affects the individual but also the partner, and attachment patterns may be affected.

Traumatic experiences may include loss, especially that of a child. Other traumas including witnessing or being involved in traumatic events such as drought, bushfire, flood or accident, sexual assault, car accident, suicide, affairs, divorce, financial crashes etc.

The impacts of trauma on a person can continue for decades. These do not always manifest themselves close to the event but may appear many years later. The death of parent when a child is very young is one such example.

The relationship counsellor will work with both partners together (whenever possible) to bring to the surface and encourage healing of post traumatic stress reactions. When two people make this journey together, often they are able to understand, for the first time, how such events impact on the partner’s behaviours, decisions, emotional health, and capacity to move on. This understanding is vital for the relationship to survive under traumatic circumstances. Often the greatest gain from such work is the growth in ability to access, sit with, and cope with change and emotions.

This work requires specialist understanding, and many AARC members list dealing with trauma as one of their skills.

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