Trauma occurs when a person perceives an event as life threatening. Whether it was actually life threatening or not doesn't matter. What matters in trauma is that the person's perception of the event (or more accurately, their nervous system's perception of the event) is that they are in great danger. 

This is not limited to physical danger. Overwhelming emotional experiences can also be traumatizing. Complex relationships with caregivers or difficult relationships with significant others can cause trauma. This is what is referred to as attachment trauma or relational trauma. 

Examples of potentially traumatizing experiences

  • Physical abuse 
  • Sexual abuse or assault (including date rape)
  • Emotional and psychological abuse 
  • Interactions with narcissistic, borderline and other personality disordered people
  • Being bullied, excluded or neglected 
  • Death or illness of a loved one
  • Caregiver fatigue/Compassion Fatigue
  • Accidents, physical injury, disability, illness 
  • Witnessing accidents
  • Witnessing violent deaths or attacks (including domestic violence)
  • Military events (active combat, witnessing death, violence, torturing)
  • Natural disasters 
  • Cultural, societal or religious experiences 
  • Vocational trauma (medical workers, police, firefighters, etc.)

Common symptoms that can be indicative of trauma

  • Nightmares (often vivid, painful, violent)
  • Avoidance of people, places and things associated with the traumatic event
  • Anxiety or shakiness when thinking about the event
  • Feeling as though you are re-living or re-experiencing the event 
  • Inability to stop thinking about the event or person
  • Being "triggered" by words, images or situations connected to the traumatic event or person
  • A sense of being emotionless, numb or "checked-out"
  • Abuse of substances (drugs, alcohol) to escape unwanted traumatic symptoms
  • Relationship difficulties 
  • Depression, despair, hopelessness
  • Career or vocational problems 
  • Feeling a lack of control over ones thoughts and actions
  • Feeling as though one cannot move on, though the event has long since passed 
  • A sense of being disconnected from one's body 
  • Fear of being overwhelmed by strong emotions 

Therapeutic methods and techniques like Sensorimotor Psychotherapy® and Art Therapy can help with with effective trauma resolution. If you are suffering from the effects of trauma, please contact me for a phone consultation