Most people associate trauma with ‘life threatening events’. Here at the Trauma Centre of Australia (TCA) we believe that trauma is complex and can include many scenarios. Our view has been informed by our direct contact with people exposed to trauma, over a 25 year period. We appropriately define trauma as “a psychological wound that has occurred due to a person’s perception of a stressful event” (Peter Horton CEO, 2013).
Psychological trauma can arise from many events including accidents, workplace injury, death, robbery, harassment, and emotionally intrusive thoughts. Emotions including, shock, confusion, numbness, depression, anxiety disorders and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), are often associated with a traumatic experience.
“It is when a person classifies an event as a trauma that determines when a trauma has occurred”.
Trauma can have a profound impact on psychological wellbeing and everyday functioning. Thoughts can become consumed by the incident, making concentration on work near impossible, decision-making unclear and coping abilities frail. Reactions can range from mild to severe and can persist for weeks, months, or years following the initial traumatic event. The implication of high stress can be labelled ‘trauma’.
Identifying whether trauma has occurred can be unclear for many people. Trauma is unique to each person, therefore, triggers, responses and symptoms can vary significantly. For instance, if a tarantula crawled across a room in front of two people, one person might not be affected or think about the event thereafter. The other person might become frightened by the perceived threat, which can cause emotionally demanding nightmares. Common experiences of trauma can include whether the incident is perceived as having the following elements:
Reactions vary from person to person. Common reactions include:
It is important to identify the experience of trauma as soon as possible, so that immediate help and ongoing care can be given to ensure minimum psychological impact.
Following a traumatic incident, people identified as being particularly effected can benefit enormously from trauma counselling.
Trauma counselling and assistance can ensure minimum psychological impact by reducing traumatic stress, speeding the process of normal functioning, and reducing the likelihood of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Other ways of helping reduce trauma symptoms include:
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