What is Trauma?

A traumatic event is one that overwhelms and overloads your personal capacity to cope or find safety. Whether you are suffering from the impact of a single traumatic incident or as a result of chronic traumatic experiences, healing is possible.


Single-Incident Trauma: Examples may include a car accident, tornado, death of a loved one, bullying, or physical or sexual assault.


Complex Trauma: results from repetitive harm. 


Developmental Trauma: chronic family traumas such as having a parent with mental illness or substance abuse, losing a parent due to divorce, abandonment or incarceration, witnessing domestic violence, not feeling loved or that the family is close, or not having enough food or clean clothing, as well as direct verbal, physical or sexual abuse. 


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): May develop after a person has been exposed to a traumatic experience. Sufferers often have persistent symptoms including:

  • Unwanted upsetting memories
  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Emotional distress after exposure to traumatic reminders
  • Physical reactivity after exposure to traumatic reminders
  • Trauma-related thoughts or feelings
  • Trauma-related reminders
  • Inability to recall key features of the trauma
  • Overly negative thoughts and assumptions about oneself or the world
  • Exaggerated blame of self or others for causing the trauma
  • Negative feelings
  • Decreased interest in activities
  • Feeling isolated
  • Difficulty experiencing positive feelings
  • Irritability or aggression
  • Risky or destructive behavior
  • Hypervigilance (high anxiety, safety seeking)
  • Heightened startle reaction
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty sleeping