Traumatic events are defined as frightening, dangerous, or violent situations that pose a threat to a person's life or bodily integrity. Witnessing a traumatic event that threatens the life or physical security of a loved one can also be traumatic. Traumatic experiences may initiate strong emotions and physical reactions that can persist long after the event. People may feel terror, helplessness, or fear, as well as physiological reactions such as heart pounding, vomiting, or loss of bowel or bladder control. People who experience an inability to protect themselves or who lacked protection from others to avoid the consequences of traumatic experiences may also feel overwhelmed by the intensity of physical and emotional responses. Trauma can come from outside of the family (such as a natural disaster, car accident, school shooting, or community violence) or from within the family, such as domestic violence, physical or sexual abuse, or the unexpected death of a loved one. People who suffer from traumatic stress are those who have been exposed to one or more traumas over the course of their lives and develop reactions that persist and affect their daily lives after the events have ended.
Traumatic reactions can include a variety of responses, such as:
~ intense and ongoing emotional upset
~ depressive states
~ behavioral changes
~ difficulties with self-regulation
~ problems relating to others or forming attachments
~ regression or loss of previously acquired skills
~ attention problems
~ academic difficulties
~ change in sleep patterns
~ change in appetite
~ physical aches and pains & other physical symptoms
~ use drugs or alcohol
~ increase in risky behaviors
~ unhealthy sexual activity
~ difficulty in establishing fulfilling relationships
~ difficulty maintaining employment
At no age are children immune to the effects of traumatic experiences. Even infants and toddlers can experience traumatic stress.
Traumatic experiences leave a legacy of reminders that may persist for years. These reminders are linked to aspects of the traumatic experience, its circumstances, and its aftermath.
Children may be reminded of traumatic experiences by persons, places, things, situations, anniversaries, or by feelings such as renewed fear or sadness.
Physical reactions can also serve as reminders, for example, increased heart rate or bodily sensations.
Identifying children’s responses to trauma and loss reminders is an important tool for understanding how and why children’s distress, behavior, and functioning often fluctuate over time.
Trauma and loss reminders can reverberate within families, among friends, in schools, and across communities in ways that can powerfully influence the ability of children, families, and communities to recover.
Addressing trauma and loss reminders is critical to enhancing ongoing adjustment. Without treatment, repeated exposure to traumatic events can affect the brain and nervous system and increase health-risk behaviors.
Traumatic stress can also lead to increased use of health and mental health services and increased involvement with the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.
"Don't close the book when bad things happen in your life; turn the page and begin a new chapter."
The trauma response
Turning off the trauma response
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Common Conditions and Disorders Related to Traumatic Stress
~ Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
~ Acute stress disorder (ASD)
~ Adjustment disorders
~ Borderline Personality Disorder
~ Reactive attachment disorder (RAD)
The above conditions often occur concurrently with:
~ Addiction disorders
~ Anxiety disorders
~ Attention disorders
~ Emotion and behavior dysregulation
~ Mood disorders
~ Low self-esteem
Cognitive Processing Therapy
Creative Expression Therapies
DBT Skill Building
Holistic & Integrative Techniques
Emotional Freedom Technique (Tapping)
Neurolinguistc Programming (NLP)
Stages of Change Model