The word “trauma” has become a word used frequently to describe a highly stressful event. When thinking about trauma, however, it is essential that one understands that traumatic events refers to extreme stress that has the ability to inhibit a person’s ability to cope. This stress may also interfere with a person’s daily functioning. There are differing definitions of psychological trauma offered by experts in the field.
In this discussion, psychological trauma is the unique individual experience of an event or enduring conditions, in which:
· The individual’s capability to assimilate his/her emotional experience is overwhelmed, or
· The individual undergoes (subjectively) a threat to life, bodily integrity, or sanity.
The individual may feel physically, emotionally, and cognitively overwhelmed. The context of the event commonly includes abuse of power, entrapment, pain, helplessness, betrayal of trust, confusion, and/or loss. Therefore, a traumatic event or situation can cause psychological trauma when it overwhelms the individual’s ability to cope, and leaves that person fearing death and/or threat to bodily integrity, or psychological wellness.
Definitions of trauma include responses to powerful one-time incidents like crimes, natural disasters, accidents, surgeries, deaths, and other violent events. It also involves responses to prolonged or repetitive experiences such as child abuse, combat, urban violence, neglect, battering relationships, and enduring deprivation.
If you or someone you know is struggling with having endured a trauma(s), there is help and resources available, including professional counseling. Please contact (215) 487-1330 or email us at Greenridge@intercommunityaction.org for more information about our counseling services.
Author: Elaine R. Augustine, MA, LPC