Trauma affects anyone

2019-05-28 06:00
Local social workers and counsellors learning about dealing with trauma.PHOTO: Nomzamo yuku

Local social workers and counsellors learning about dealing with trauma.PHOTO: Nomzamo yuku

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Leliebloem House Youth and Child Care Centre in Crawford hosted a trauma workshop last week to raise awareness about the seriousness of trauma in society.

The House invited Werner van der Westhuizen, a social worker, trainer and a consultant from Port Elizabeth, to educate social workers and counsellors from various child care organisations in Cape Town.

The two-day-workshop, on Monday 20 and Tuesday 21 May, dubbed Effective Ways for Working with Trauma, focussed on children and the life-long impact of trauma.

More than 40 people attended the workshop.

Hilda Davids, social worker at Leliebloem, says while working with children over the years they noticed the need for intervention to deal with the rising rate of trauma in the communities.

She says the workshop equipped the professionals with knowledge of how to approach the problem without offending or threatening victims.

She says disadvantaged communities deal with the scourge of trauma daily.

Though their actions speak for themselves, most people are not aware they are suffering from trauma.

She says their actions have a negative impact on their loved ones, and that trauma affects anyone regardless of age and background, she says.

“If it is not dealt with it carries on from one person to the other. It is about time that we seek effective interventions at a professional level,” Davids says.

Van der Westhuizen says he is glad Leliebloem is doing something to raise awareness about trauma.

He says trauma is the psychological and social consequences of being exposed to single, catastrophic events or multiple, chronic adverse experiences such as abuse, neglect, violence and substance abuse.

He says trauma disrupts brain development of young children and this leads to deficits in social, cognitive and emotional development, which in turn leads to adopting high-risk behaviours, and health risks.

“Trauma has been linked with a range of health and mental health outcomes such as depression, suicide, substance abuse, heart disease, cancer and other diseases,” says Van der Westhuizen.

He continued: “It has even been shown to reduce life expectancy up to 20 years,”

Van der Westhuizen says the workshop aimed to provide participants with a deeper understanding of trauma and its effects, as well as different ways of addressing trauma and helping individuals recover from its impact.

He says it is easy to label the behaviour of children as problematic, “but without an understanding of the real cause, we can only treat the symptoms and positive results are often short term.”

According to him more interventions are needed and it should not only be the trained social workers that have to take responsibility, but it should be a collective effort by all those working with children.

He says in children the issue could be easily identified at school through the learner’s performance and behaviour and therefore teachers need to understand the impact of trauma on the behaviour of children in their classrooms and schools. V Continued on page 2.


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