Have you experienced a/several traumatic event(s) in your life? Have you ever wondered what trauma really is? Here is some good information to understand about trauma. If you know you struggle with trauma, let me help you feel whole again. Let's talk today! As you begin to cope with trauma, use my handout to guide you. If you're not sure if you struggle with trauma, read this -- and feel free to contact me with any questions.

Trauma comes from a Greek word meaning “to wound or to pierce.” The standard “dictionary definitions” of trauma include "an injury to living tissue caused by an extrinsic agent" or "a disordered psychic or behavioral state resulting from severe mental or emotional stress or physical injury, an emotional upset, an agent, force or mechanism that causes trauma" (Merriam-Webster, n.d.). In simpler terms, trauma is intense emotional distress resulting from stressful life experiences. Trauma can be divided into two major categories: Big "T" and Small "t" Traumas.


Big "T" Trauma or complex traumas are events, such as rape and war, that involve physical harm and/or a threat to life or physical safety. Big "T" Trauma is trauma in its most severe form, often leading to the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).


Little "t" or Small "t" Traumas are life events that are more common experiences and although upsetting to an individual, are one the surface not thought of as traumatizing. 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 Small "t" Trauma.

The term Small "t" Trauma does not imply, however, that the emotional impact of such an event is insignificant compared to Big "T" Traumas. The emotional wounds can be as lasting and severe as Big "T" Trauma wounds.


It is reasonable to say that everyone has endured some Small "t" Traumas in life. Examples of Small "t" Traumas include being teased in elementary school, always being picked last for a team, divorce, death of a beloved pet, losing a job, or losing friends by moving from school to school during childhood.


These traumas have a strong influence on your view of the world and shape how you cope in life. For example, the Small "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, Small "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.


Relational trauma is trauma from distressing events that occurred within the context of a relationship. If you have experienced abuse as a result of a relationship in early life, it is in a relationship that you will be healed.

What is Trauma? | Trauma Overview

Symptoms Most Traumatized People Have in Common

       Advanced Symptoms


        (These take the longest to develop.)


  •         Excessive shyness
  •         Muted or diminished emotional responses
  •         Inability to make commitments
  •         Chronic fatigue
  •         Immune system problems
  •         Psychosomatic illnesses
    • headaches, digestive, neck & back pain
  •         Depression
  •         Isolation
  •         Diminished interest in life

4 Core Signs of Trauma

     1. Hyperarousal

    2. Dissociation of body and mind

    3. Constriction in body and perceptions

   4. Feelings of helplessness

      Early Symptoms


  •         Hypervigilance
  •         Intrusive imagery or flashbacks
  •         Extreme sensitivity to light and sound
  •         Hyperactivity
  •         Exaggerated emotional and startle responses
  •         Nightmares or night terrors
  •         Mood swings
  •         Reduced ability to deal with stress
  •         Difficulty sleeping

      Middle-Stage Symptoms


  •         Panic attacks
  •         Mental blankness or spaciness
  •         Avoidance behaviors
  •         Attraction to dangerous situations
  •         Frequent crying
  •         Exaggerated or diminished sexual activity
  •         Amnesia and forgetfulness
  •         Inability to love, nurture, or bond with others
  •         Fears of dying, going crazy or having a shortened life

Trauma Is Treatable

People with trauma do not all experience the same symptoms. The severity, frequency, and duration of symptoms vary depending on the individual and his or her specific trauma. What may affect one person may not affect another person in the same way. Not everyone who has trauma experiences every symptom. Some people experience only a few symptoms. Some people experience many. 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 explore 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 to treat trauma. Trauma contributes to negative thinking, negative behaviors, and difficult emotions, and counseling for trauma can help you change your thinking, and behaviors, which in turn impacts your mood. Counseling with me is a safe place where you can explore some very difficult issues that are hindering you. I look forward to working with you.


If you think you may struggle with trauma, please reach out to me! Untreated trauma can lead to serious life consequences, especially the longer it is left untreated. 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


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