When most people think about trauma, they have a very limited view of what a trauma or Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) is. Usually they will think of veterans coming back from a bloody war or a woman being brutally raped. But there are many more subtle traumas that happen to people, sometimes on a daily basis, that eventually cause the symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), anxiety and depression, as well as others, whether or not the client, themselves, would readily identify these as traumatic events when asked.
There are two types of trauma: acute and chronic. An acute trauma is a one-time event such as a car accident or a home burning down. A chronic trauma is an ongoing trauma experienced consistently over time such as living with an alcoholic parent or in a bad foster care situation.
When I teach about trauma, I ask the clinicians to name possible traumatic events. I say possible, because it only becomes a trauma for someone when their brain is incapable of processing the event (see previous post). Here are some of the examples they have come up with: poverty, bullying, incarceration, adoption, emotional abuse, religion, natural disaster, physical abuse, infertility, childbirth, divorce, death of a significant person or pet, illness (self or others), school (especially if there is an undetected learning disability), national disaster, sexual abuse, war, job loss, neglect, ritual abuse, betrayal, humiliation, discrimination. This, unfortunately, is not an exhaustive list.
Broadening the way people identify trauma, will help clinicians to help their clients identify and heal from the underlying cause of some of their mental health symptoms.