What is Trauma?
What is Trauma?

Understanding Trauma

Traumatic experiences are intense and overwhelming experiences that involve serious loss, threat or harm to a person's physical or emotional well-being. These experiences may occur at any time in a person’s life. They may involve a single traumatic event or may be repeated over many years.


Adverse Childhood Experiences ACEs

According to a study completed by Kaiser Permanente, more than 60 percent of the of U.S. population has been exposed to at least one traumatic experience before the age of 18. These traumatic exeriences, known as adverse childhood experiences or ACEs, can have a lifelong impact.

ACE’s can include:

  • Abuse -psychological, physical, sexual, incest
  • Severe neglect or loss
  • Victim/witness of political terrorism, nuclear disasters, acts of crime, domestic violence, kidnapping, natural disaster, etc.
  • Living with someone who misuses substances
  • Living with someone who has a mental health problem
  • Having an incarcerated family member
  • Parental separation or divorce
  • Extreme stress that overwhelms a person’s capacity to cope


The Effects of Trauma & PTSD:

Trauma can disrupt a person’s thoughts, emotions, sensations, attachment and relationships. According to the CDC a person who has experienced a significant number of ACEs (four of more) is five times more likely to be depressed, and can have their life expectancy reduced by as much as 20 years.

A traumatic event, particularly one involving a threat of physical harm, can develop symptoms of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). About seven to eight percent of the population will have PTSD at some point in their lives.
Symptoms of PTSD can include:

  • Intense, distressing memories of the event
  • Excessive anxiety
  • Sleep issues
  • Anger and irritability
  • Depression
  • Social isolation


Helping People who’ve been traumatized:

  • Develop a deeper understanding of the effects of adversity and trauma.
  • Instead of asking “What’s wrong with you”, which implies you have something wrong with you, ask “what happened to you?” The latter takes away blame, shows compassion and an effort to understand them.
  • Encourage and support the person to seek treatment options.


Our therapists can help you understand your feelings and find healthy coping mechanisms to address your symptoms. Learn more about our counseling services.