PTSD Car Accidents: Interview with Roland Bal
JUNIOR: First of all, give us a little info about yourself and your background.
ROLAND: I've been working with people for 16 years now. I'm from Holland originally, and that's also where I started to work. I moved to Luxembourg and set up a practice there as well and then for 3 years I've been living here in Barcelona.
I started with bodywork, craniosacral therapy, visceral manipulation and other massage forms and from there on seeing that physical tensions, when they are chronic, are often related to emotional issues so I started to work with emotions and trauma, and how they affect people both physically and mentally. That's my orientation right now.
I've developed a system of my own where I work with trauma, and that's grown out of some modalities I've studied like Somatic Emotional Release, Somatic Experiencing, development of model of trauma and different coaching approaches. The way I look at trauma now is quite unique in the way I work with people, but I'll tell you more about that as we go on.
JR: Do you think there is a cure for PTSD after car accident or similar disorders?
R: I would say it's a subjective question depending on, first, what people have gone through, the severity and duration of it, what support they receive afterward and also how they went into the accident/incident or a period which has been traumatic.
I mean, generally I like to keep the question open or the possibilities open that yes it possible, but it depends a lot on the willingness of the person, if he or she really has the intention to persist through the tough parts of therapy and I mean, there are so many factors that come into play when you go through a traumatic event or period in your life, you have certain coping mechanisms and your flight fight freeze or please kind of reactions, and the longer those coping habits are in place the more difficult it becomes to rewire those structures, because they are dependent on your survival. So again, just to repeat myself, it depends how you go into the incident or period, the severity and duration of it, the support you receive afterward and for how long it's been kept in place.
The Mechanism of Trauma and PTSD from Car Accidents
JR: Would you say there is something in common for all the patients what they struggle with?
R: What I've deduced is that there's a mechanism that I see within each patient and that might be if they’ve gone through an accident, whether they've been abused, whether they've been in an incident or a prolonged neglected abuse and trauma, is that there's a certain mechanism that is present in each one of us. A process of dissociation - so we move a sense of integrated self into an overwhelming emotion.
So if you've been life threatened there might be anxiety at the core, and on top of that emotion, you develop a coping emotion that might probably be anger or deep sadness as to deal with that overwhelming core emotion. From there on it develops into more complexity that you develop certain coping habits like smoking, drinking, excessive sports or excessive working, it could be whatever. So that's the basic mechanism that I can see in each client or person, that repeats itself, regardless of what they went through.
Is Healing Possible after a PTSD Car Accident
JR: Is the cause of PTSD relevant toward rehabilitation?
R: The cause... it takes us back to the first question in terms of the duration and intensity of what they've gone through, the support they receive and what's been happening before the incident, so to give you an example of a client I had; she had been hit by a car as a pedestrian, and first of all she comes in with that: "like ok, this is on my plate right now and I need to work with this." But as we went into her particular story there was a lot of background behind that like family issues and a lot of repressed anger.
That kind of contributed to that 'in-alertness' of the accident happening. It depends what you might come in with, talking about accidents because that's a bit your entrance here. People might come in when they just had an accident with a motorbike that is somewhat minor, and you can work through that in five sessions and they rebound pretty well after that. They might have a partner that is supportive or a family structure that's supportive; or you might have somebody that has a similar accident but it is just the last drop in the bucket and they have a lot of history that comes before that; incidents of abuse, neglect, sexual abuse or whatever, and this is the last thing that topples their delicate psychological balance.
Then there's a lot more work to be done. So I think we need to distinguish between what is PTSD, what is complex PTSD, and what is Post Traumatic Stress. Post-Traumatic Stress might be mild or severe, so it is a general term. When you talk about PTSD or complex PTSD it is usually the succession of traumatic incidents during periods in people's lives that really makes it a disorder rather than just a Post-Traumatic Stress condition.
Have you been through a car accident and it caused PTSD? Leave your comment below.