Trauma refers to an emotional response to a distressing event or experience that overwhelms an individual's ability to cope. It can manifest in a wide range of physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms, such as flashbacks, anxiety, depression, and avoidance behaviors. Trauma can result from a variety of experiences, including physical or sexual assault, combat exposure, natural disasters, or the sudden loss of a loved one.
What is it?
Trauma, when coming from a psychological lens, is defined as "a deeply distressing or disturbing experience." We can add that often these types of trauma get ingrained, or rooted, into our bodies and minds and feel like they haunt us long after the event occurred. At times, these traumas can manifest in surprising ways (i.e., when we're trying to build intimacy with a partner, but cannot open up or trust them, despite having done nothing wrong; we start to cry when we're being sexual with a partner, not knowing exactly why; we cannot communicate our needs and wants with others, for fear of being hurt; etc.) and can sometimes block us from living our best and optimal lives, preventing the experiences of happiness and joy. It is believed that trauma "lives in the body," so experiences from our past (even early-childhood) get carried to the present day in different ways.
There are three main types of trauma: Acute, Chronic, or Complex
Acute trauma results from a single incident (i.e., a car accident).
Chronic trauma is repeated and prolonged (i.e., domestic violence or abuse).
Complex trauma is exposure to varied and multiple traumatic events, often of an invasive, interpersonal nature (i.e., physical and sexual abuse, over a longer period of time, from a family member and living in poverty).
As you can imagine, having different types of trauma, and how long you experience the trauma(s), can determine the level of impact a person may have in their life and on their behavior. Often we don't even realize at first the things we've done/learned as a way to protect ourselves from the hurt are no longer helping us and, in fact, cause more hurt (i.e., using drugs or drinking to 'mask' the pain away, causing financial and interpersonal issues within our relationship).
How do we treat it?
Trauma-informed care is the type of therapy given by our trauma therapists and means they are trained in understanding the often deeper impact various traumas have had on our bodies and minds. Working with them would likely allow you to identify and work through the deep-rooted trauma from your past to achieve a level of growth from the trauma that provides you with a new-found confidence and sense of closure, however that may look and feel for you. Every person is different in how their trauma has impacted them and manifests in their life, so your therapist will work with you in processing the ways in which this has manifested for you and how to lessen the impact of these traumas to help you regain (or gain for the first time) a true sense of self, free of the impact(s) from the traumatic event(s). Using biofeedback (i.e., body/mind-centered therapies), such as Brainspotting techniques, and gentle and validating talk-based therapies, your therapist will assist you in reaching your optimal level of growth and healing that is tailored to your wants, capabilities, and desires. While treatment cannot guarantee the exact desired, and speedy, results, our therapists are well-prepared to assist you in walking with you through your growth journey. Your are not alone and your trauma does not have to continue to define your life.