Have you ever wondered if you have experienced trauma in your life? And what impact it has had on you and your relationships? Trauma effects most of us at different intensities and different stages of our lives. The best way to overcome trauma is to work through this with a trained therapist who has the tools to help you learn to cope with the trauma you experience
What Is Trauma?
Symptoms of trauma are as unique as the person they affect but can include:
- Mood swings
- Sudden flashbacks of traumatic events
- Panic attacks
- Frequent crying or rapidly swinging emotions
- Chronic fatigue
- Feeling isolated or depressed
- Sensitivity to lights or sounds
- Attraction to dangerous behaviors
- An inability to commit to dates or events
All of these can be signs of trauma. Trauma is divided into two major categories: Big “T” and little “t” traumas. Big “T” trauma is also called complex traumas and includes events, such as rape and war. This type of trauma involves physical harm and/or a threat to life or physical safety. Big “T” trauma can lead to severe symptoms and even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Little “t” traumas are life events that are more common experiences and although upsetting to an individual, may not be recognized as having a large impact initially. Everyone experiences small “t” trauma in their lives. These can include:
- Being teased
- Being picked last for a team or not at all
- Death of a pet
- Parting ways with friendships/relationships
It is not the event that determines whether something is traumatic to someone, but the individual’s experience of the event. If an individual experiences an event as life-altering or upsetting in such a way that it changes the way they think about themselves or others, it is likely a little “t” trauma. It is important to note that the term little “t” does not mean that the emotional impact of the event is insignificant compared to a big “T” trauma; the emotional wounds can be as lasting and severe as big “T” trauma wounds.
These traumas have an incredible influence on your view of the world and shape how you cope in life. For example, the little “t” traumas of being teased by peers and being picked last for the team can leave you with low self-esteem and the belief that you are not good enough — despite the fact that you may see no connection between the two. Fortunately though, little “t” traumas are just as treatable in therapy as big “T” traumas, and treating them can reshape the way you view the world, and yourself.
When symptoms of trauma continue for more than three months, it is considered PTSD or Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. If you think you may have PTSD, schedule an assessment today! If you do not, but have other trauma symptoms, counseling can help you understand and grow from your trauma.
Treatment for trauma consists of specialized counseling techniques and practices that will help you cope and deal with trauma and its effects on your life. I use EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), as well as Pia Mellody’s inner child framework, when I work with clients struggling to overcome the impact of trauma in their lives.
If past experiences are hindering your ability to have healthy and happy relationships, please reach out to me. Let’s talk today!
- Levine, P.A. (1997). Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic.
- Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). “Trauma.” Dictionary. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/trauma