Trauma can be defined as any event (or series of events) which is physically and emotionally harmful to a person. Traumatic experiences can have a significant short and long term impact on a person. This can include immediate reactions such as shock, feeling numb and being unable to think straight as well as potential longer term consequences such as anxiety, low mood, PTSD and dissociation. Because traumatic can overwhelm the brain and wider nervous system, they can have lasting adverse effects on the individual’s ability to function in the way they want to and on their physical, social, emotional well-being. Problems can result in our mental health, in our relationships with others, and in our work or study.

There are three main types of trauma: Acute, Chronic, & Complex

  1. Acute trauma results from a single event (e.g. rape, assault, car-crash or fire)
  2. Chronic trauma is repeated and prolonged such as domestic violence, abuse, or work related events  (e.g. armed services or emergency service workers)
  3. Complex trauma is exposure to multiple traumatic events, often in childhood or adolescence. Complex trauma usually involves interpersonal harm, emotional, physical or sexual abuse. It can also be associated with growing up in a chaotic unpredictable environment associated with alcohol/drug above and neglect.

Trauma changes the way we think, feel and act. Research shows that when a person experiences  trauma  their brain becomes hypervigilant in order to survive these threatening environments.

Research has found that children are especially vulnerable to trauma because of their developing brain. During chronic and complex trauma, fear-related hormones are activated over a prolonged period of time. This can keep a child's brain in a heightened state of fear over months or years and this can cause long lasting changes in how a person feels, behaves and thinks about the world. Chronic and complex trauma is also associated with physical health problems and a range of medical conditions.