Tag: <span>Therapy</span>

Top traumatic and the most stressful life events, before the Corona virus Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist Midstream Pretoria death divorce

Top traumatic and the most stressful life events, before the Corona virus

Top traumatic and the most stressful life events, before the Corona virus or Covid-19

Covid-19 certainly is one of the most stressful life events ever.  The world has stopped and people right over the world are in lockdown. The corona virus or Covid-19 indeed is certainly one of the top traumatic and the most stressful life events.

What were known as the top traumatic and the most stressful life events until recently when Covid-19 hit us?

  • Death of a loved one.
  • Separation or divorce.
  • Getting married.
  • Major illness or injury.
  • Starting a new job.
  • Job loss.
  • Workplace stressors.
  • Financial problems.
  • Move to a new house.


What is the definition of trauma?

Trauma is defined as stressful events, over which a person has no control. This stressful events can cause highlevels of anxiety which threatens or harm a person’s emotional, physical, and / or social well-being and interferes with his / her normal daily functioning in such a way that reevaluationof his / her actions and thoughts are needed. These strong emotional reactions have the potential to interfere with a person’s ability to function in the traumatic situation or later (Van Niekerk 2014).

Suddenly all of us as human beings have to face the reality of Covid-19. So many people wonder what’s wrong with them and wonder whether they are loosing themselves and whether the lockdown might be the reason why they suddenly experience negative incidents from the past to bother them now. Trauma research indicates that during times of trauma it is most possible that negative incidents of the past comes to the surface and bother you again. These negative past incidents are however “normal” to experience in an “abnormal situation”, like COVID-19. These incidents are most of the time things that a person hasn’t dealt with properly in the past. This is one of the most important things to take good care of your own as well as your families’ emotional well-being.

Trauma crying divorce death Dr. Marisa van Niekerk Educational Psychologist


This sudden anger, sadness, confusion and guilt that suddenly came into your life, can be addressed through therapy. Therefore do what you can do during the lockdown time, but if these emotions and feelings with regards to incidents that happened in your past, keep on bothering you and interfere with your everyday life, it might be time to talk to a professional person who specializes in trauma.

The importance of working through traumatic incidents from the past, as well as the trauma of Covid-19 can’t be highlighted enough as you don’t want and need to carry ‘unfinished business’ for the rest of your life. Therefore “face” your fear, sadness, anger, etcetera and make your own as well as your loved ones’ ‘unfinished’ issues of the past, ‘finished’ learning experiences for the future.

I am an educational psychologist and trauma specialist in private practice in Pretoria, Midstream, Centurion, and Midrand areas. I have completed my master’s and doctoral degrees in trauma with teenagers and adults. I had been a teacher (both pre-primary and primary) for 18 years and later on a school principal who completed my honors degree in early childhood development. My specialization area of working with trauma starts from the age of two years up to 92+ years of age. I have more than 26 years of experience in working with children, parents and other adults.

Read more on trauma counselling on my blog. You can also connect with me on my Facebook page to read more on other educational psychology topics.

Reference:  Van Niekerk, M. 2014. Unpublished doctoral thesis: ‘The psycho-educational use of mental toughness in dealing with trauma.’


Photo credits:
Photo by camilo jimenez on Unsplash
Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash
Photo by Darya Tryfanava on Unsplash
Trauma therapy after death

Trauma therapy after death and loss

Trauma therapy after death and loss: Introduction

Death is well known as one of the top three traumas that a person can experience. When a person close to you dies, the impact of the shock affects you as a “person in total”. “Person in total” means that it can affect every part of your life (or at least some parts).  For this reason, it is recommended that a person seeks trauma therapy after death, or a loss.

Trauma therapy after death and loss: Person as a whole

Examples of the various parts of a person are:

Emotional being
– anxiousness / aggressiveness / having a bad feeling in your stomach / dry mouth / hypersensitive for noises.

Physical state
– without any feelings / alone / shocked / guilty.

Social state
– irritated between people (even between friends) / withdraw into yourself / want to be left alone.

– confused / forgetful / problems to concentrate / dreaming / feels the presence of your loved one.

– sleeping problems / restless / change in eating patterns / tearful / avoid memories of your loved one.

Trauma therapy after death and loss: Do and Don’t

How to handle a grieving person:

– talk too much (to hide your own uncertainties);
– say things like: * God has picked the most beautiful flower in the garden; *
– your’e parent was old, it’s not so bad;
– things will get better;
– pull yourself together;
– handle your friend different from what you did in the past (he has a need to be treated as normal).
– Just be there: give a hug (don’t say anything, because you are probably as stunned as the grieving person himself;
– visit the grieving person again in future (he’ll need you even more than now);
– let him know on special days, for example his loved one’s birthday / Christmas, that you think of him (not just a once off);
– invite your friend for a coffee / nice outing (keep on asking – even if he refuses to go; tell him that you really want to have coffee with him);

Trauma therapy after death and loss: what’s next

In my next post, I will talk about 7 ways to deal with your own grieving process.

Keep well!

Trauma counselling Pretoria, Centurion, Midstream

Trauma counselling: Centurion Pretoria

Trauma counselling: Introduction

Is trauma counselling relevant in the 21st century, or in South Africa?  It is a shocking reality that trauma such as divorce, death, abuse, suicide, natural disasters, hi-jacking and housebreaking is part of our everyday lives.

Trauma counselling: how to recognise trauma

How do I know whether my child or member of my family is traumatised? Read more

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