What is trauma?

It's a buzzword we hear a lot about these days, so, what exactly is trauma?

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Most folks would define trauma by identifying situations such as fighting in a war, being a victim of a natural disaster, being kidnapped, etc. Maybe that's what you think of when someone says they've been traumatized. 

But what if I told you trauma happens to all of us, every day?

When therapists refer to trauma, we are really talking about any significant event which causes a substantial emotional and/or physical impact.

In this way, unfortunately, trauma is far more inclusive.

Maybe its losing a family member to cancer, witnessing your parents being physically violent, experiencing sexual assault, being in close proximity to an act of school violence, or enduring emotional abuse in a romantic relationship.

In any event, there are no hard and fast rules about what constitutes a trauma. The most important thing to keep in mind is this:

if it impacted you, if it is something that you continue to revisit in your thoughts/feelings/behaviors, if it is something that left an overwhelming collection of emotions in its wake: then it is considered a traumatic experience. 

Next week, we'll dig a bit deeper into healing trauma, stay tuned. -Meredith Mertens Hegedus