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Understanding Trauma: What is Trauma?

Understanding Trauma: What is Trauma?

What is trauma?


Any event that is “threatening to a person’s life or physical integrity, and should include a sense of helplessness along with fear, horror, or disgust.” (Greenwald, 2013)

Basically anything that feels too overwhelming, too difficult to handle, or triggers a feeling of powerlessness. 

In fact, upsetting life events, such as divorce, chronic illness, car accident, adoption, loss, and unemployment can cause just as much (and sometimes more) traumatic stress as traditionally labeled traumatic events like abuse, violence, and natural disasters.

Also, please note: what may trigger a traumatic response for one person may not be labeled and stored as “traumatic” for another person. This can be helpful to be aware of when two people have very different responses to the same distressing event.

Trauma Comes in Many Forms 

Exposure to Trauma can happen in many ways:

  • Constant state of stress
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Lack of healthy social interaction
  • Severe physical or emotional abuse
  • Contact sexual abuse
  • Severe emotional or physical neglect
  • Living with a household member who was mentally ill, imprisoned, or a substance abuser
  • Living in a home impacted by domestic violence
  • Parental separation/divorce
  • Bullying
  • Witnessing violence
  • Being threatened with violence

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

As you can see, none of us is immune. Very few of us make it to adulthood without experiencing at least one traumatic experience.

If you suspect that your child, teen, or young adult’s behaviors could be related to previous trauma, give me a call, and let’s see if counseling might be a good fit.

And if you’re a teacher, youth worker, coach, or mentor and wonder how you might be able to best work with a difficult student in your care, give me a call, and let’s see if my consultation services might be helpful to you.

Speak Your Mind


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Cordova, TN 38018
(901) 296-3277

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