What Is Trauma?
Having worked with clients for many years who have experienced trauma, I can tell you that no two people handle it in the same way. Trauma can be experienced individually, or it can happen simultaneously to an entire group of people, similar to the events that unfolded during 9/11. The best definition of trauma I can give you is: the body’s response to a distressful, overwhelming, or significantly emotional experience.
By Lisa Marcelino, PhD, LAMFT
Many times trauma can occur from unexpected, scary events like car accidents or the sudden loss of a loved one. Other times trauma can come from witnessing a horrific event happening to someone else. Some trauma can occur behind closed doors and unbeknownst to others, such as sexual abuse by a family member.
It is important to note that not all stress that we undergo can lead to trauma, but some events are more likely to precipitate a trauma response in us. The experience of trauma is very subjective in nature. People create meaning for the traumatic experiences they have undergone (Levers, 2023, p.33).
Dealing With Trauma
We all process our trauma differently and on different timelines. While some may need to process trauma in therapy for a few weeks, others may take years to process what they went through. Trauma can be long-lasting and negatively contribute to your overall sense of well-being.
The aftereffects of trauma impact our bodies, whether we’re aware of it or not. Hyperarousal is one significant initial symptom of trauma. Hyperarousal is the feeling that the threat could return at any moment. Therefore, you stay on the alert, waiting for something to happen (Levers, 2023, p. 35). Those around you might not understand why you seem to overreact at times. They don’t feel the same sense of doom that you do all the time.
Many people who enter therapy after a traumatic event experience this symptom- a feeling of pending doom- a feeling of a threat on the horizon. Being in a constant state of hyperarousal can be exhausting. This negatively impacts your mental well-being, daily activities, and even physical health.
You Don’t Have To Suffer
All types of trauma have one thing in common- it involves some level of human suffering (Levers, 2023, p. 36). All too often, people do not know how to deal with and process their trauma, so they continue to suffer. They may try to ignore the signs that something is wrong, and they may deny what they are feeling to others. They may be ashamed at what they are experiencing, and therefore may forgo therapy indefinitely.
Unprocessed trauma can affect all facets of life- home, work, school, friendships, recreational activities, and more. That’s why it is so important to listen to your body and mind- and seek out a therapist who understands what you are experiencing and can help you process it and be able to move forward.
Trauma can affect anyone at any time. I have been through many significant traumas, many of which I write about in my book, “Adopting A Survivor’s Mentality.” Yes, even therapists have been through trauma!
Going through my own traumas as a child and young adult put me on a path to want to help others and share my story to inspire others to overcome their innermost issues. As someone who has been on the healing journey, I want others to know that they’re not alone. By working with a trauma therapist like myself, you can begin to understand and overcome the effects of your trauma.
If you want to learn more about my story, I encourage you to check out my autobiography available on Amazon.
If you’d like to schedule a session with me, you can contact us here.
Our therapists support the mental health of kids, families, teens, couples, and adults of any age. Let us know how we can help you by reaching out.
References: Levers, Lisa Lopez. (2023). Trauma counseling: theories and interventions for managing trauma, stress, crisis and disaster. 2nd Edition. Springer Publishing Company: New York, NY.
Marcelino, Lisa. (2022). Adopting a survivor’s mentality. Self-published. North Haven, CT. Available on Amazon.