Trauma and adverse experiences

Trauma can involve direct or indirect exposure to life-threatening situations, serious injury, or sexual violence. However, traumatic experiences are not always life-threatening. Trauma is subjective; people will perceive and be impacted by life events differently. We view traumatic experiences as those that are "extremely upsetting, at least temporarily overwhelm the individual's internal resources, and produce lasting psychological symptoms."*

Although this is not an all-encompassing list, the following are examples of possible traumatic events: 

  • Natural disasters 

  • Being in, or witnessing, a serious car accident

  • Physical, sexual, emotional, and verbal abuse

  • Neglect

  • An unexpected or violent death of a loved one

  • Divorce or separation of primary caregivers

  • Separation from other important loved ones

  • Community violence or bullying

  • Domestic, family or dating violence

  • Serious injury, major surgery, or life-threatening illness of self or a loved one

*Briere, J. N., & Scott, C. (2015). Principles of trauma therapy: A guide to symptoms, evaluation, and treatment. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. 

What Is Traumatic Stress?

The following list provides common traumatic stress responses: 

  • Intense and ongoing emotional distress

  • Depressive and/or anxiety symptoms

  • Behavioral changes

  • Difficulties regulating emotions

  • Problems relating to difficulties forming attachments

  • Regression or loss of previously acquired skills

  • Academic difficulties

  • Nightmares

  • Difficulties sleeping and eating

  • Physical symptoms (aches and pains)

  • Engaging in risky behavior (drugs, alcohol, sex, self-harm)

Healing can happen.

Trauma-focused therapy for teens

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