Health & Wellbeing

Guest Blog - What is Trauma Counselling?

More about the Trauma service and how it can support people.

In this Recovery Talk Guest blog, Kerri Brems, Recovery Connections new Trauma Counselling Service Lead tells us more about the service and answers some questions. 

What is the new counselling service? 

The new Trauma Counselling Service is an addition to the Recovery Connections family, in partnership with My Sisters Place and funded by the National Lottery Community fund. 

This unique opportunity gives people the chance to work, or continue to work on their recovery, whatever stage they are at, whilst also working through any identified or unresolved past trauma at the same time. By offering a specialist service that integrates addiction and trauma, we can help build resilience and help people to be the best version of themselves. 


What is trauma-informed counselling?

Trauma-informed counselling and therapy means that we work with anyone who has experienced trauma at any point in their lives. We utilise a strengths-based approach with a focus on emotional and psychological safety to help people impacted by trauma regain a sense of control and empowerment. This includes in areas that may affect their ability to recover or sustain their recovery from substance use. The therapists are trained in different therapeutic approaches and have a broad knowledge base along with experience of trauma and associated substance use and how this can impact a person. An integrated person-centred approach means we draw on different therapeutic models to provide individually tailored support to each person. You will not be judged.  Therapy can help you understand what happened to you and understand how that affects the present. Therapy can help reduce some of the symptoms of the trauma that may manifest in the here and now. 

The role of the therapist is to help the person understand their situation, teach strategies to express themselves, and cope with potentially stressful situations. The therapist can also offer the individual tools to help them manage difficult feelings, and/or negative thoughts and behaviours.

Therapy usually happens weekly, for 50-60 mins, in a safe and confidential setting which allows you to build a trusting relationship with the therapist to help work through what you feel is impacting you and/or your recovery. 

Trauma - What is it? What does it mean? 

Trauma isn’t what happens to you, it is what happens inside you and the impacts of what has been experienced can be felt for years after the event. Disconnection to the self, that then ripples outwards into relationships, into work, family, and life in general. 

What is trauma? Trauma can be an event, incident or experience that causes physical, psychological, and emotional distress that overwhelms a person and their ability to cope and respond in the moment. A traumatic event can happen once or multiple times.  Trauma can result in intense feelings of helplessness, powerlessness, fear. We can respond to trauma immediately after the event. However, trauma can impact the way the brain functions which means that we can then become stuck in the traumatic event. This can then have long term impacts on our wellbeing and ability to function. 

Symptoms may include, flashbacks, anxiety, nightmares, fear, negative and intrusive thoughts, depression, suicidal thoughts, shame, OCD, substance use, negative sleep and food patterns, mood swings, anger, loss of trust in self and in others and so on. 

“Oh but I haven’t experienced trauma, or isn’t that just for war veterans?”

This is something that is said quite often. People often minimise their experience because it does not fall into the ‘societal’ view of what trauma is or is not. Or they may struggle to identify that what has happened to them may have impacted their view of themselves and the world. The world looks different from a lens of trauma and understanding what has happened to a person and how that has impacted their lives, helps them regain their sense of self and control. This is what the new Recovery Connections Trauma Counselling Service is all about. 

“Addiction and Trauma are completely separate things...”

Trauma fuels addiction. Shame can be a bi-product of trauma which can keep a person’s distress and then possibly their addiction a secret. Shame is what can keep us believing we deserve bad things, that all this chaos is our fault and that we are fundamentally bad. 

We all try and numb our pain in lots of different ways.  What happens if we feel so distressed, so alone, that we keep looking for something to make us feel just that little bit better. Or what if, what we use to numb ourselves, like alcohol or drugs, becomes the problem? The focus shifts then to the substance – “If I can stop using it will ok” “If they can stop drinking, they will be fine” 

Removing someone’s coping mechanism can be dangerous without understanding why it is there in the first place. Let’s look at what pain is the addiction or problematic drug/and or alcohol use trying to resolve.

This is the hope for the service. People in recovery have already survived what has happened to them. They may have then survived recovery from substances. Therapy can therefore enhance what they have already achieved and increase resilience. 

How do I refer to the service? 

Recovery Connections welcome referrals from anyone in recovery living in Middlesbrough and Gateshead, regardless of gender, belief, sexuality, or disability. Each referral will be considered on an individual basis. Support may be accessible even if you are not accessing a recovery service. 

You can self-refer or ask your worker (if applicable) to complete a referral form on your behalf.  Referrals will not be accepted without a referral form.  

For a referral form please contact

Any questions or to speak to a member of the Trauma Team please contact the office on 01642 351976 

We can help. Healing is possible. 

By : Recovery Connections