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Dr. Robert Steven Unger

Registered Psychologist and Registered Marriage and Family Therapist

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Psychological Trauma

(Workplace Event, Motor Vehicle Collision, Victim of a Crime)

Author Harold Kushner wrote a New York Times best-selling book “When Bad Things Happen To Good People”.

It is true. Sometimes, we may find ourselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, (or even at the right place at the right time) and an event that lasts only a few seconds may affect us for the rest of our life.

Trauma is a word that describes an exceptionally negative experience to such a degree that we have no real expectation of it and no immediate coping mechanism for it.

The completely normal, immediate, psychological after-effect of experiencing a substantial trauma is a form of disbelief or “disconnect”. For example, first responders that are finally able to rest after being deployed to a horrific event and work many hours without interruption are often observed displaying what is called the “million mile stare” once they are able to leave the scene and have a break. This usually involves the first responder just “sitting” somewhere, staring straight forward but apparently oblivious to his or her surroundings. From a psychological perspective, this usually indicates that the first responder has very recently seen or witnessed such unimaginable sights, sounds or smells in such magnitude that he or she has not been fully able to comprehend or process all that they have experienced. They have, while sitting there, disconnected from their surroundings while trying to understand or interpret what they have just experienced.

The most typical signs and symptoms (but there are others) of having psychological consequences from trauma are: the avoidance of (or inability to stop thinking about) thoughts, feelings, places, things or people that remind you of the traumatic event, the experience of enhanced or lost memory of the traumatic event, “flashbacks”, unexpected and ‘energized” responses to normal, everyday noises, substantial changes in your usual sleep style, eating, or grooming habits, tearfulness, irritability, or anger outbursts, concentration difficulty, mind wandering, increased nervousness or worry, increased emotional distance, social withdrawal.

In addition to being a Registered Psychologist, I provide assessment, diagnosis and treatment to individuals that display psychological symptoms after having been exposed to trauma. More than twenty years ago, in 1991, along with staff members from the EMS and Fire departments from many Ontario municipalities, I completed the Basic and Advanced courses for Critical Incident Debriefing Teams. In 1998, I completed a five day workshop presented by the Canadian Trauma Stress Network. In 1999, I attended the Advanced Clinical Workshop in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder sponsored by the American Psychological Association, the Ontario Psychological Association and the Psychology department of the London Health Sciences Centre. I attended continuing education lectures and workshops on “New Directions in the Treatment of Acute Trauma and Post-Trauma States” (2002), “Early Intervention Field Trauma Response” (2004), and “Trauma and Psychological Injuries: Practice, Clinical, Legal and Ethical Issues” (2009).

If you experience psychological consequences as a result of trauma, you may feel as if your normal coping skills have been exhausted. It may be beneficial for you to contact me for an assessment of your symptoms and possible treatment.

If you have a psychological injury as a result of being involved in a motor vehicle collision, your automobile insurance company may pay for assessment and treatment services. You are encouraged to discuss this with your insurer. Since 2000, I have been registered with the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) that oversees the payment for all assessment and treatment related to motor vehicle collisions.

If you have a psychological injury as a result of a crime, my professional services to you may be paid by the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General – Victim Services. You are encouraged to contact them. I am registered as a service provider in the Victim Quick Response Services (VQRS).

If you have a psychological injury as a result of a workplace incident, my professional services to you may be paid by the Workers Services and Insurance Board (WSIB). You are encouraged to contact them. I am registered as a service provider in the WSIB.