What is Trauma?

There are many definitions of trauma but simply said, it is the lasting pain and suffering that results from experiencing something, which at the time, we were unable to cope with, mentally, emotionally or physically. Lasting symptoms of trauma can affect our thinking, behaviour and physical health. Negative emotions such as guilt, shame, anger, irritation and frustration can take over. The famous doctor, and leading author on trauma and mindfulness, Gabor Maté states it most simply as, “the invisible force that shapes our lives”¹.

Trauma leaves us with scars of mental and physical pain and suffering.

The most prominent experts on trauma now believe that trauma is far more prevalent in our society that anyone ever knew. Trauma may be source of behavioural problems and mental illness² and often begins in childhood. So although scientists have demonstrated the influence of genetics on mental health, a person’s environment plays a huge role in trauma.

What can be done?

Many people recover from single incident traumas, such as a car accident. Recovering or coping from repeated traumas or childhood trauma is more difficult. Trauma survivors can really benefit from treatment. Therapies such as Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) has an established record of helping people recover from trauma, including veterans³. Another treatment called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) can also help.

Interested in learning more?

Ask your therapist or counsellor if Cognitive Processing Therapy or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing might be the right treatment for you. Check out my blog on symptoms of trauma for more answers and remember, there is help so please reach out.


¹Gabor Maté

²van der Kolk, B. A. (2014). The body keeps the score: Brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma. Viking.

³Neil J. Kitchiner, Catrin Lewis, Neil P. Roberts & Jonathan I. Bisson (2019) Active duty and ex-serving military personnel with post-traumatic stress disorder treated with psychological therapies: systematic review and meta-analysis, European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 10:1, DOI: 10.1080/20008198.2019.1684226

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