Historically, the majority of research in this area was based on the experiences of war veterans. Later, parallels were seen in the experiences of others who had experienced distressing, upsetting, or scarring events.

Types of Trauma

  • Child Abuse
  • Mass Interpersonal Violence
  • Natural disasters
  • Large-Scale Transportation Accidents
  • Fire and Burns
  • Motor Vehicle Accident
  • Rape and Sexual Assault
  • Stranger Physical Assault
  • Intimate Partner Violence
  • Sex trafficking
  • Torture
  • War
  • Witnessing or Being Confronted with Homicide or Suicide of Another Person
  • Life-threatening Medical Conditions
  • Emergency Worker Exposure to Trauma

What are the long-term effects of trauma?

  1. Reduced capacity to regulate affective states-often feeling hyperarousal, dysphoria, becoming “triggered”, all or nothing approach, compulsive/inhibited sexuality and suicidal ideation/self injury behaviors
  2. Distorts a person’s ability to remember and make sense of the world. Often this is experienced as amnesia/hyperamnesia, dissociative experiences and reliving experiences (often multisensory).
  3. Alters an individual’s sense of who they are, often feeling a loss of self, shame, guilt, and self-blame. In addition, to a a sense of defilement or stigma and a sense of complete difference from others.
  4. Changes a person’s perception of the perpetrator, causing a preoccupation with the relationship and with the perpetrator (including revenge), unrealistic attribution of total power to perpetrator, sense of special relationship, acceptance of belief system of rationalizations of perpetrator.
  5. Impacts an individual’s relationships with others and their ability to relate to others (interpersonal trauma), which often leads to confusion around the nature of interpersonal relationships in general. The trauma can cause general isolation and withdrawal, reduced capacity for empathy, disruption in intimate relationships, repeated search for “rescuer”, persistent distrust and diminished ability to assess interpersonal danger.
  6. Affects an individual’s biologically, when the central nervous system gets overloaded and physiological consequences include: an exaggerated startle response, startled habituation, chronic hyperarousal, physical symptoms (headaches, nausea, stomach pain, GI problems, etc.) and alexithymia.
  7. Alterations in an person’s system of meaning that include a loss of sustaining faith or spirituality, a sense of hopelessness or despair, reduced capacity to imagine a future and difficulty finding meaning in life.

Trauma Recovery In Therapy Stage Approach (Judith Herman, 1992, Trauma and Recovery)

  • Safety and Stabilization
  • Coming to Terms with Traumatic Memories Integration,
  • Reconnection and Moving On

Eight Keys To Safe Trauma Recovery (Babette Rothschild, 2010)

1. Plot Your Course With Mindfulness.

2. Begin With Your Epilogue…

3. You Made It.

4. Remembering Is Required to Stop Flashbacks.

5. Reconcile Forgiveness and Shame. First, share your shame and second, forgive your limitations.

6. Take Smaller Steps for Bigger Leaps- Most traumatized client cycle between too much (hyper) and too little (hyper) arousal. Beginning to work on the optimal zone of arousal and effective functioning is very important in therapy.

7. Develop Grounding Techniques- A set of strategies used to detach from emotional pain by bringing the focus to the outside external world and away from the self. Mental techniques can include describing objects, counting items and using humour. Physical Grounding can include running cold water over hands/face, touching objects around you, carry a grounding object in your pocket and noticing changes in your body. Lastly, soothing strategies can include saying something kind to yourself, remembering words in an inspiring song, poem etc.

8. Get Moving.



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