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What is Trauma?

Updated: Mar 8, 2021

When we hear the word “trauma” we think of the most horrific stories we can possibly imagine. We think of someone being severely physically abused by their husband, a person surviving a car accident with an 18-wheeler and seven car pile-up, someone getting robbed at gunpoint, etc. Of course, these are all traumatic events, however, that word is often tied to the worst situations we can possibly imagine.

Trauma does not have to be an elaborate, dramatic situation. It can be more subtle but can still be very traumatic. 

When you look up the word “trauma” the most common definition you will see is: “a psychological, emotional response, to an event or experience that is deeply distressing or disturbing.” This explains it in a nutshell. However, to me, trauma is much more than that.

I recently attended a seminar where I heard two other great definitions of trauma that I resonated with more. The first one described trauma as, “any experience in which an individual is ill-equipped to handle.” The second description of trauma was, “anything not nurturing.”

Trauma Equals Trauma

Throughout my years of being a social worker, I’ve heard all kinds of stories, experiences, events that my clients/patients experienced and those varied significantly. Even though they were different, they were all still viewed as traumatic. It is important not to devalue someone else’s experience because it does not match yours or, “isn’t as bad.” 

Perception Is Reality

If two people experience the exact same event, one person could view it as traumatic, where the other person may not see it as traumatic to them. It is how the person that experiences the event perceives it. Even as a mental health professional, I would never tell someone that their experience is NOT trauma.

YOUR Trauma, Not Theirs

If that person sees, believes, perceives, identifies, and/or recognizes trauma or a traumatic experience, then IT IS. It is not my place to judge what one experiences or how s/he views it. I am here to help you process and cope through such an event in a healthier and less threatening way. There are several ways to approach trauma and this varies with each individual. One popular type of therapy for trauma is EMDR, (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy

EMDR is a type of therapy that is very beneficial for people that have experienced trauma in their life. Stay tuned for my next couple of blog, where I will talk about signs and symptoms of trauma, as well as, my own experience attending a seminar on EMDR and what I’ve learned related to trauma healing. 

If you would like to make an appointment for a session, contact me here.

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