Trauma Changes a Person

Jun 27, 2023 | Blog Articles

Around 12% of Australians are likely to experience a Post-Traumatic Stress Injury in their lifetime. Symptoms can manifest slowly and often people can’t quite put their finger on what’s different. Signs can develop into behaviours that are out of character.

Petrea King writes about different forms of trauma, signs and symptoms, and post-traumatic growth. With the right education and support, healing is possible.

Trauma comes in many forms and affects people in different ways.

For some people, the trauma doesn’t recede into the past in the weeks and months following an event. They continue to struggle with the effects which can include anxiety, depression, nightmares, hypervigilance, difficulty sleeping, emotional numbness, avoidance behaviours and/or flashbacks of unpleasant images.

A Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI) to the brain and nervous system – commonly referred to as PTSD – can occur through a one-off event such as:

  • car/sporting accident
  • being a victim of a crime
  • surviving a natural disaster
  • another event where a person’s life felt under threat

It can also occur in people exposed to multiple traumas through their work such as veterans, police officers, paramedics, psychologists and emergency workers or because of difficult life experiences such as for refugees, or adults who were sexually, physically or emotionally abused as children or who experience domestic violence in their relationships.

People who have sustained a PTSI often experience difficult emotions such as:

  • irritability
  • persistently feeling negative
  • angry outbursts
  • depression
  • hypervigilance
  • anxiety
  • feeling guilty or ashamed
  • and some people ‘act out’ in reckless or self-destructive ways.

Anyone with a PTSI finds that the effect it has on them puts an enormous strain on their relationships with family, friends and other people. It can make you feel isolated, afraid and angry years after the event.

Around 12% of Australians are likely to experience a PTSI in their lifetime.

PTSD is not about how tough you are

Many people think they just need to ‘toughen up’. However, anyone can be affected by a PTSI.

It’s not about how tough you are, what skills or knowledge you have or how strong your character is. There may have been no way of avoiding sustaining a PTSI as it is a physical injury to the brain and nervous system. Just as none of us would expect to carry a bucket of water with a broken arm, likewise, we need to create an environment in which an injured brain and nervous system can be healed.

A PTSI is caused by a trauma to the most primitive part of the brain: the fear, memory and sensory areas.

The first step in overcoming PTSD is to recognise it

Symptoms can manifest slowly and often people can’t quite put their finger on what’s different. Signs can develop into behaviours that are out of character.

We may notice that our once happy friend or family member begins to isolate themselves, becomes more anxious or irritable or loses interest in activities they once loved.

Just like our bodies, our brains can heal

“You are not your brain. You have a brain.”

Petrea King

A traumatized brain and nervous system can be healed through education and support in implementing evidence-based strategies, skills and healthy lifestyle habits. Healing involves re-engaging people with a PTSI with their higher-functioning neo-cortex which deals with logic, perspective, reasoning and intelligence, among other things.

What research shows

Post-traumatic growth becomes possible when people manage their brain more effectively by implementing evidence-based skills and strategies for healing.

At Quest for Life, participants are taught how to manage symptoms as well as learning about how trauma impacts the brain, and how healing is made possible.

Exercise, yoga, mindfulness, good nutrition, deep and sound sleep, relaxation and meditation are among the many evidence-based therapies that promote wellbeing and healing for people with a PTSI.

With regular practice of easy-to-implement life skills learnt on the Moving Beyond Trauma program, the intensity of PTSI symptoms is significantly reduced, restoring a much better quality of life.

As well as the team of highly skilled professionals who conduct the program, being with other people who have sustained a PTSI also helps. There is a power in being with people who share and understand the experience of trauma – we need to be with people who ‘get’ us.

Participants quickly realise that, regardless of the cause of their PTSI, they are united by the experience of trauma’s consequences. Whether you’re a veteran, a victim of childhood violence/abuse/sexual assault/domestic violence/crime, or you’re a police officer, emergency worker, doctor, psychologist or you’re in Defence… everyone experiences the same symptoms.

It’s a revelation for people to so clearly see that trauma unites them rather than the event/s which caused the trauma.

How Quest for Life can help

It takes strength and resilience to work through PTSD, and Quest for Life can help through our residential programs and online support.

  • Our 5-day residential Moving Beyond Trauma program offers an effective and holistic approach
    to managing and healing post-trauma suffering in a confidential and safe environment.
  • Coming Soon: Healing Trauma online course. See our other online courses

Quest for Life knows how to help: participants experience a 32% increase in quantified mental wellbeing (Kessler 10 and PTSD 6) 4 weeks after attending the Moving Beyond Trauma program. This figure continues to rise as participants continue to implement their learnings. Many past participants have returned to work and/or fulfilling lives.


Some of these practices can help you to calm your mind and improve your wellbeing and can be found on our Toolkit page:

  • Keys to help you sleep better
  • Meditation practices
  • Trauma recovery workbook
  • Recovering from Trauma video series

Some of Petrea King’s Podcasts may be helpful and can be found on our Podcast page:

  • Sarah Macdonald Nightlife – Petrea King on Post-Traumatic Stress
  • Tony Delroy Nightlife – Dealing with Trauma

Find out more about Quest for Life’s Moving Beyond Trauma program

Funding Options for Residential Programs


Quest subsidises all privately or self-funded places to ensure the cost of our programs remains affordable to individuals. This allows us to reduce the fee from $4,400 to $2,800.

$2,200 Shared room (Early bird* $2,100 – must be paid 30 days in advance)
$2,800 Single room (Early bird* $2,700 – must be paid 30 days in advance)

Fees effective 1 July 2023.

Subsidies and Financial Help

Through generous grants, donations and fundraising, additional subsidies and financial help is available for a range of circumstances and anyone experiencing financial stress will be considered. We review each case individually and we do not means test. All applications are conducted via phone with a friendly member of the Programs intake team.


Quest is a registered NDIS Provider. Residential Programs can be funded through plan-managed and self-managed NDIS plans.


We work with Department of Veteran Affairs (DVA) White Card or Gold Card holders to make applications to the DVA Health Approvals Board.

Worker’s Comp Insurance

Residential programs can be covered by workers compensation insurance on a case-by-case basis.

Call our Programs Advisers Today
1300 941 488