Motor Vehicle Accident Trauma
Fender benders are a common occurrence on city streets. If you’re a driver or ride in a car, it’s quite likely that you’ll experience being in a collision at some point in your life. Thankfully, most of these motor vehicle accidents are not serious (no injuries or little to no damage to vehicles). Most people are affected for a brief time even after a minor collision (say, driving a little slower, making sure to shoulder check more than once when changing lanes, covering the brakes when going through an intersection, etc.) but these practices don’t last long and don’t interfere with everyday life. Of course, there are very serious collisions that have catastrophic outcomes for those involved. If you’ve survived one of these accidents, you may have more than just physical healing to deal with. It’s not uncommon for people who’ve been involved in a serious collision to suffer from trauma or PTSD.
Symptoms & signs of motor vehicle related trauma
- Flashbacks to the accident
- Flashbacks to the medical treatment that took place immediately after the accident or during the acute recovery phase
- Feelings of powerlessness
- Inability to move forward
- Fear of driving or riding in a car
- Worrying about loved ones getting into accidents
- Survivor’s guilt (if anyone in the collision did not survive or was seriously injured)
- Inappropriate use of alcohol or other substances (self-medicating)
- Self-destructive behaviours (problem gambling, excessive porn use, gaming, etc.)
- Thoughts of suicide
- Explosive outbursts of anger
- Feeling emotionally numb
- Feeling disconnected from loved ones or friends
- Avoiding people, places, or events that might remind you of the accident
When is it time to get help?
If you’ve been through a traumatic event such as motor vehicle crash, you’re experiencing the symptoms of trauma or PTSD, and the effect of the collision on your mental health is not improving, then you should look at getting some support on this journey.
Motor vehicle related trauma treatment methods
Your therapist will talk with you to determine the best treatment method for your individual circumstance. There are several treatments that are successful in helping clients to overcome motor vehicle accident related trauma and PTSD, including:
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is an approach that works to help the brain process information, memories, sounds, and feelings in a way that makes them be seen in a new and less distressing way.
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based approach to treatment that focuses on how people’s thoughts, emotions, and beliefs influence their behaviour and how they perceive themselves.
- Virtual reality assisted therapy (VRAT) is a computer-based system that allows a user to experience a sense of presence in a computer-generated or video presented three-dimensional environment. It’s a form of therapy that utilizes the immersive experience that VR technology provides to support individuals who experience anxiety related to common fears or phobias.
- Hypnosis and hypnotherapy can allow clients to travel deeper into the unconscious or subconscious to look at and work with issues and ideas perhaps inaccessible otherwise. It’s like guided daydreaming: a form of relaxed concentration.
- Mindfulness therapy is an approach to treatment that focuses on how people’s thoughts, emotions, and beliefs influence their behaviour and how they perceive themselves, others, and the world. The ability to be in the moment, to acknowledge and regulate your emotions helps you to break free from negative thought patterns.
What will I get out of treatment with Insight Psychological?
The accident already impacted you when it happened – don’t let it continue to impact you. Talking with a therapist and committing to a treatment plan can help you move past the event and put it in your emotional rear-view mirror, where it belongs. You can get help to alleviate the symptoms of the trauma caused by the accident. Insight has a team of therapists in multiple locations in Alberta who can help! Please contact us.