Trauma is a broad term and often a term we don’t tend to use for ourselves. We like to think of trauma as something that happens to “other people”, but the reality is most people have been through events in our life that would likely qualify as trauma, to verifying degrees of course. The statistics tell us that 60% of men and 50% of women will experience/have experienced at least one traumatic event.
There are two different types of trauma. There are those events most of us would think of as trauma. They are often one time events that are intense in nature such as witnessing a shooting, being in a terrible car accident, being violently attacked, or being in a natural disaster. There is also another type of trauma what we may be lower in intensity but still clearly upsetting. These things may also be recurring, such as witnessing ongoing domestic violence or abuse.
Trauma is defined by the person. What may be traumatic for one person may not be for another. Often times we define trauma as a situation that you feared you or someone else may be hurt badly or killed OR being in a situation that was scary or disgusting and you felt like you could not stop the situation or needed someone to help.
People’s experiences following a traumatic event can vary, one person may go through a traumatic event and develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) while someone else may go through the same experience while experiencing very few symptoms. For an example of this you can think about our Veterans, some develop PTSD while others never do.
There was a large scale study from 1995-1997 examining the long term impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACE). And what they found was a surprisingly strong link between adverse childhood experiences and increased risk factors for poor health outcomes throughout the entire lifespan. And individuals that had more adverse childhood experiences had the highest increased chance of poor health and early death. This was a landmark study in the field of psychology showing this clear link between mental health and physical health. What we also know is that mental health treatment greatly reduces the risk of the poor health outcomes. And once again we see the power of counseling! Not just on our mental health but on our physical health as well.
What about you? Do you have experiences that you think would qualify as traumatic? Maybe you have been carrying around the baggage of your past for far too long and you are ready to unpack your bags. If you live in Charlotte, I would love to help you on your journey.
Theresa Leskowat MS LPC is nationally certified in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and is a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional. She loves helping individuals find closure and peace with both their present and their past.