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Understanding Trauma

understanding trauma

Definition of Trauma

Trauma can be defined as a psychological or an emotional response to an event or an experience that is deeply distressing or disturbing. The trauma may be derived from a single event or a series of experience which span over a period of time.


Trauma is often divided into the following categories:

Developmental or Attachment Trauma

Is caused by overt abuse, neglect, lack of affection or response from the caregiver, absent parent. It may also be caused by sudden disruptions, e.g. divorce or a move. 


Complex Trauma   

Is developed when someone is exposed to multiple traumatic events of invasive, interpersonal nature, which include emotional/psychological and physical abuse or profound neglect, which usually occur early in life.


A person may develop Complex Trauma from a single event such as sexual assault, or from several events, for example, prolong abuse and neglect. 


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

A person may develop PTSD after witnessing or experiencing a terrifying event, such as an accident, sexual assault or abuse. Symptoms of PTSD may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. A person who suffers from PTSD may face temporary difficulty adjusting and coping with their daily lives for a period of time. 

Effects of Trauma

A severe traumatic experience may lead to anxiety and depression, which is manifested through nightmares, fears, loss of appetite, numbness or frequent crying.


The effect of unresolved trauma may be subtle. However, it continues to disrupt the victim's psychological and emotional wellbeing, leading to a frequent feeling of anger and insecurity It also caused frequent conflict with self and others. Sometimes, the victim may unconsciously self-sabotage, stagnate and underachieve because of the feeling of being "not good enough".


According to well-known American Psychologist, Dr Francine Shapiro (2018), the traumatic experience is often stored in the memory, which carries the same perception and thoughts the trauma victims during the traumatic events. Though the victims are aware that it is over, they struggle to reconcile their thoughts and their emotions. To experience restoration, It is important that the victim process his / her traumatic experience with a professional counsellor who trained in trauma counselling. 

Please click here for Counselling and Psychotherapy for Trauma

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