Trauma can be defined as a psychological, emotional response to an event or an experience that is deeply distressing or disturbing (https://centerforanxietydisorders.com/what-is-trauma). Trauma can be both big “T” trauma and little “t” trauma.
Big “T” trauma refers to what we would typically associate with trauma such as serious physical injury, life-threatening experiences, death and sexual violence. It is important to note that witnesses to trauma or people living in close proximity to a traumatic situation can also be vulnerable to post-traumatic stress disorder. Those people in professions like paramedics, firefighters, police officers are vulnerable as well as they would experience exposures to emotional shock on a regular basis.
Little “t” traumas are highly distressing events that affect individuals on a personal level but don’t fall into the big “T” category. Examples of little “t” trauma include non-life-threatening injuries, emotional abuse, death of a pet, bullying or harassment, losing a important to flag and acknowledge as many people will downplay these traumas without realizing the significant effects that they may be having on their day-to-day lives.
Trauma-informed care means that a therapist is attuned to their client’s histories and recognizes that their client may be experiencing trauma symptoms. The therapist will acknowledge and validate the role that trauma has played in their client’s life. Unresolved and unprocessed big and little “Tt” trauma can affect us in our present lives and manifest as symptoms such as: depression, numbing, emotional overwhelm, nightmares flashbacks, hypervigilance mistrust, generalized anxiety and panic attacks, substance abuse and eating disorders, feeling unreal or out of body. It is important to note that trauma survivors often have symptoms instead of memories. If you are experiencing any of these trauma symptoms see a trauma-informed therapist who can work with you to determine whether the root cause of your current symptoms lies in your past experiences. Don’t suffer alone – trauma can be resolved.