Dr Barbara Louw


The many faces of trauma

The popular opinion allows people to see ‘trauma’ as being synonymous with distress or discomfort. The other day I stood in a queue to pay for a pair of shoes when I overheard a lady telling her friend that she was so “traumatized” because another shopper “snatched a bargain from under her nose”.

The haphazard way people are using terms like ‘trauma’ and ‘stress’ gives the impression that they know what they are talking about. Our own biases allow us to assume that we know what they are talking about and we have the answers.

The problem is that as listeners we stop listening with the intent to hear and understand. We stop paying attention to what they are trying to share and why they need to tell that part of their story.

How to get the most out of a counselling session?

You’ve taken the step to schedule your first appointment with Dr Barbara Louw. You may be nervous or worried you might not know what to do when you get to her office or connect online.

You have all these thoughts running through your head like, “Will she judge me? Will she believe me? Can she understand my dilemmas?  Will it help?” You consider postponing the appointment, but you’re in a crisis or trying to prevent more trauma.

Returning to counselling after a break

Like any journey, your therapeutic journey may have starts and stops, highs and lows, departures and returns. Sometimes unexpected changes in life force you to pause the counselling and coaching for wellness. Perhaps you wanted a break to focus on another part of your life.

Once you are ready to return to counselling, you might wonder how you should go about it. What should you say to your counsellor? “I’m back” doesn’t feel like enough. The principles and care that brought you to Dr Barbara Louw in the first place are still effective.

Ultimately, your counsellor is not going to judge or reprimand you for taking a break.


Counselling versus talking to you friend

Talking to a friend may be free of charge, but working with a counsellor will give you the cognitive and therapeutic skills to live a happier life.

When we don’t completely understand what professional counselling is, it’s easy to assume it can’t be more beneficial than talking to a friend. Like a relationship with a friend, seeing a counsellor involves conversing with someone, being vulnerable and maybe receiving advice. If counselling was only about paying someone to let you vent or chat with them, it actually would be a waste of money.

The ‘talking’ aspects of counselling are only a very small part of the therapeutic journey.

A meaningful gift.

A friend of yours may go through hard times and experience trauma that touches your heart.  This is the time that you realise that we all need a little extra help.

You can show that you care by sponsoring a counselling session. This gesture is a gift that will be remembered for years to come.

A gift counselling session is a gift of hope and growth for someone who needs a nudge in the right direction, special support and counselling to find lasting solutions. Sessions can be facilitated online or in-person in Pretoria.

When you click on the Enquire’-link you will be directed to an email address. You will receive the relevant information to ensure that you can make an informed decision and the confidentiality of all parties are honoured.

We like this gift because it is a gentle, meaningful reminder that someone cares and that counselling is available in trying times. This is a kind way of addressing the needs of a friend and a loved one.

Going for counselling can be an unnerving prospect in any situation where you haven’t defined your problem in your own words. The first question you can ask yourself is might I benefit from trying counselling? The answer is an unequivocal YES if you are experiencing one or more of the following awarenesses:

  • The constant feeling of being overwhelmed
  • You can’t seem to stop making self-defeating choices
  • You might be stuck in a frustrating rut
  • You are caught in a place where nothing you’ve done before seems to have helped
  • You feeling like nobody understands
  • You are riding an emotional rollercoaster
  • You craving a new perspective

Fear, fake news and false facades

The three things that are thriving in the midst of a national disaster are fear, fake news and false facades. People try to cling to the idea that life has to go on as usual in the shadow of grave health concerns.

The reality is that we have to find a new sense of normality in a maze of anxiety-provoking, exaggerated gossip. It is hard to distinguish what is really happening and when are people exaggerating their situation.

Everything that happens is not a potential catastrophe and you don’t have to be in the centre of everyone’s drama. You are allowed to take step back to take a reality check.

The good news is that people are resilient and much more flexible than we give ourselves credit for. We have used our innovative skills to deal with the shortage of electricity during load-shedding and now our movements are restricted. We have to make last-minute changes to our schedules because meetings get cancelled. We have to change our working hours and reprioritize interactions to fit in with the load-shedding roster.

From the perspective of being a member of a rather normal household, that is life. Having children, managing trauma centres and studying challenged my adaptability skills for many years. My husband and I did our pre-grad studies at UNISA when our children were very small. There were many midnights when I charged up the Muchleneuk campus to drop assignments in the post-box before deadlines. There were many other nights of minimum sleep, because an assignment and business proposal was due at the same time as having to attend a rather boring school meeting.

There are many examples of crisis situations where you were also forced to adapt and change. You survived the crisis and your recollection of the situation got lost among all the insignificant memories.

It is a challenge to embrace change and to find new solutions. As you dare to look beyond survival mode, you are in the perfect place to grow. It may be forced posttraumatic growth or the spontaneous eruption of a new season in your life. Real posttraumatic wellness!

New seasons are times to responsibly manage the shortfall in our health and relationships. Stubborn denial of changing realities and embittered entitlement damages relationships. The damage may also extend into your relationship with God. Turn back to Him in prayer and role your care and fear over to Him today.

As you start to imagine that there can come something good from the worldwide traumatic crisis, your stress levels will lower. Embracing change will lead to creative thinking and innovation. You will find new solutions and deeper meaning in regular experiences.

Since we are all in the same time of disaster, this is the season to show kindness to the people around you. Kindness opens the door to make new friends and to change the world. Change the world with one small prayer and one kind gesture at a time.

If you struggle to deal with the crisis or trauma in your life, you are welcome to make a personal appointment today. I help people to put trauma behind them by focusing on real long-term, practical solutions.

May the peace of God be with you.

Book your online or in-person appointment today