What, exactly, is trauma?

Trauma is a form of emotional damage that results from a severely distressing event or series of events.

An experience becomes traumatic when you’re overwhelmed by stress and unable to cope or successfully integrate your resulting emotions with the experience.

In its broadest sense, we can define it as the inability to effectively process, accept, and move on from life experiences perceived as overwhelming.

However, it is perhaps best understood as an emotional wound that has never healed.

What does it feel like?

It hits you suddenly – an emotion – a memory – and instantly, you’re in excruciating psychological pain.

You’d give anything to be able to forget – to get past the pain – to heal the wound.

So, you seek out coping mechanisms to do just that.

However, relational and developmental trauma most commonly occurs in children who are still developing emotionally. They just don’t have the experience or strength to deal with the traumatic event to begin with – much less to find appropriate coping mechanisms.

And so, for them, trauma may appear as rage – or affection- or approval-seeking.

The down side

Rather than addressing the trauma itself, these coping mechanisms merely avoid the emotional pain of the trauma – and, more often than not, don’t work well, if at all.

Eventually, you seek other means of avoiding the pain of your trauma. You may even turn to drugs or alcohol as a means of anesthetizing yourself from it.

They may bring temporary relief at first, but inevitably, you need more and more to achieve the same effect. Drug and alcohol abuse won’t solve or cure trauma – instead, they only compound the problems as their use deepens into addiction.

Treating Developmental & Relational Trauma

Many different types of life events, personal or societal, can cause trauma.

However, the results are often predictable – and can be debilitating and long lasting – if not properly treated. 

Filled with uncertainty? Fear? Confusion?

Not sure which way to turn? How to keep going?

Trauma-informed care allows clinicians to view other instances of emotional distress through the lens of trauma.

Abusive family members. School bullies. Prejudice. Oppression. All potential sources of trauma.

And their consequences are both intense and long-lasting – they can perpetuate themselves in a cycle of depression, substance abuse, and failed relationships.

Even members of the same family experience these things differently: while one finds ways to cope, another may simply be unable to do so.

If you’ve experienced trauma from these sources or others, you’re not alone.

And you don’t have to face it alone.

You can overcome the constant reminders – the memories – the feelings of these events.

You can muster the strength and understanding you need to deal with them effectively.

You can learn to face the challenges of how you deal with new experiences, or triggers.

We can help.

We can help you do more than just cope.

Break through the pain. Relieve the stress. Heal the wounds.

Reach out to us tod