What is Trauma?

Trauma is any experience of threat, disconnection, isolation, or immobilization that results in physical/emotional or spiritual injuries that dysregulate the human nervous system. Trauma affects the body, emotions, brain, spirit, and health.

Experiencing a traumatic event can harm a person’s sense of safety, sense of self, and ability to regulate emotions and navigate relationships.

Long after the traumatic event, people with trauma can often feel shame, helplessness, powerlessness, and intense fear.

Not everyone who experiences a stressful event will develop trauma and there are various types of trauma. 

Some people will develop symptoms that resolve after a few weeks, while others will experience more long-term effects. 

There are different degrees and types of trauma, including:

Acute trauma: which results from a single stressful or dangerous event for example rape, physical assault, motor vehicle accident, medical emergency, natural disaster, terrorist attack, or mass shooting.

Chronic trauma: results from repeated and prolonged exposure to highly stressful events. Examples include cases of child abuse, bullying, or domestic violence.

Complex trauma: results from exposure to multiple traumatic events for example sexual abuse or incest. ongoing physical or emotional abuse. chronic neglect or abandonment. medical abuse or medical trauma.

Secondary trauma, or vicarious trauma, is another form of trauma. With this form of trauma, a person develops trauma symptoms from close contact with someone who has experienced a traumatic event, and is common among helping professionals. It's prevalent among helping professionals, police officers, medical staff, therapists ect.


Think of these as umbrellas and underneath are many different specific traumas that can be individual or experienced collectively within a community.

Some of the ways trauma shows up in our lives:

Substance abuse


Sexual problems

Inability to maintain healthy close relationships or choose appropriate people to be friends with 

Hostility constant arguments with loved ones

Social withdrawal

Constant feelings of being threatened

Self-destructive behaviors

Impulsive behaviors

Uncontrollable reactive thoughts

Inability to make healthy occupational or lifestyle choices

Dissociative symptoms

Feelings of depression, shame, hopelessness, or despair 

Feeling ineffective 

Feeling as though one is permanently damaged

Loss of former belief systems

Compulsive behavioral patterns

Trauma is part of the human experience but the good news is we are not broken or flawed because of what we have been through or how it has affected our lives. 

We can heal from trauma in a variety of ways, whether we seek professional support, 12 step program or get help from friends and family.

 Healing is possible and it does not have to be a permanent experience that runs our lives.