When most people think of trauma, they think of the more commonly known types of trauma:
- Natural disasters
In addition to these well-known traumas, trauma also includes any experience or event that is perceived by the individual to have felt unsafe or threatening. This means that two people can experience the exact same event, yet it may impact both people in very different ways; some may not find the experience to be significantly stressful, while others may find that same experience to significantly impacts their life daily.
Since trauma is in the eye of the beholder, there are many experiences or events that could be considered traumatic:
- Sexual assault
- Loss of loved ones or pets
- Natural Disasters
- Car Accidents
- Having a chronic or terminal illness or watching a loved one experience a terminal or chronic illness
- Parents or caregivers with mental illness
- Foster care placement
- Multiple moves
- Incarcerated loved ones
- Witnessing domestic violence
Reactions & Responses to Traumatic Experiences
Trauma comes in all forms and can happen at any time in life. It does not discriminate and therefore can impact anybody, including children and teens. There is no one right way to grieve and process through trauma and therefore reactions and responses to trauma can vary depending on the person and his or her perception of the trauma.
The following can be reactions to experiencing a traumatic event:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty relaxing
- Mood swings
- Nightmares or difficulty sleeping
- Negative beliefs about oneself, others and/or the world
- Loss of interest in things that were once enjoyable
- Engaging in self-destructive behaviors
It can also be common for people who have experienced trauma to have physical symptoms related to the traumatic experience, such as:
- Feeling jumpy or easily startled
These traumatic events can have ways of popping into your mind when you least expect them. They creep in when you are trying incredibly hard to keep them out. They interfere with sleep, school or work, and often other areas in your life.
Sometimes people don’t share their traumatic experiences with others because they fear they will be judged, think it’s not acceptable for them to have a negative experience because others have it worse, or simply do not want to be noticed for their trauma. Despite these feelings, it is important for survivors of trauma to know that trauma cannot be compared and everyone’s trauma experience is valid, no matter the details.
How Can Therapy Help after a Traumatic Experience?
When it comes to trauma, there can be various viewpoints that lead to avoidance of addressing the experience.
Why would I want to attend therapy just to dig up the past? I can just push this away and forget about it. I’ll be fine.
It’s my fault this happened. This could have been avoided so I deserve this consequence.
Others have it way worse than I do. I don’t deserve to complain when others have it so much worse than I do.
Opening up the past again means I will never be able to close it.
Therapy provides a safe environment for survivors of trauma to process what they have experienced. Attending therapy to process trauma helps survivors to better understand the event and how that experience affects the brain and the body and has led to the symptoms and reactions that have developed. It helps survivors to develop skills for coping and moving forward along this process towards healing.
A therapist who is trauma informed, helps victims to feel heard and understood and will proceed with therapy at the pace that feels comfortable and safe for you. After participating in therapy, survivors of trauma will recognize that what may have once felt like their entire life story, is now just a chapter in their book of life.
Let us help you or your child take that first step towards healing from trauma. Learn more about our trauma therapist at Encompass Mental Health by exploring our therapist snapshots.
If you’re ready to get started, call (605) 275-0009 to schedule an appointment with one of our trauma therapists.