What is trauma?
Trauma is defined as a psychological experience when our mind becomes so overwhelmed by an event that we cannot effectively process it. Shock and According to the American Psychological Association (APA), trauma is “an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape, or natural disaster.” Traumatic events tend to be sudden and unpredictable, pose a serious threat to life or bodily injury, and are experienced as beyond a person’s control. When a traumatic event occurs, our nervous systems instinctively launch into “survival mode,” preparing us to fight or flee. While in this mode, our “thinking brain” is inhibited, often leaving us with an incomplete record of what happened, which makes integrating the experience difficult. The immediate reactions following trauma may include feelings of shock, helplessness, and overwhelm. Longer term reactions to traumatic events may include flashbacks, unpredictable emotions, as well physical symptoms of hyperarousal including racing heart, headaches, sweating, digestive issues, and feeling jumpy.
Traumatic Experiences Include:
- Sexual assault
- Physical, psychological, or sexual abuse
- Life threatening illnesses
Sudden loss of loved one
Types of Trauma:
- Acute Trauma – Trauma results from a singular event, such as witnessing or facing injury or death.
Chronic Trauma – Trauma that occurs repeatedly such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence or bullying.
Complex Trauma – Childhood exposure to multiple chronic traumatic events, often of an interpersonally invasive nature, such as abuse or profound neglect.
Types of Trauma Treatment:
- Sensorimotor Psychotherapy: Developed by Pat Ogden, PhD, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy is a holistic approach to treating trauma and attachment issues through integration of somatic, emotional and cognitive levels of processing. By using the body as a pivotal guide and resource, SP challenges maladaptive physical and psychological patterns and unresolved trauma.
- EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing): EMDR is an evidence-based treatment of traumatic symptoms. Created by Francine Shapiro, PhD, EMDR utilized bilateral stimulation to facilitate processing of disturbing events and beliefs.