With all the talk these days about childhood trauma, I want to dedicate a few blogs to this important topic. First off nearly half of our nation’s children have experienced trauma. It is real, and it has lasting effects on one’s mental health, physical health, social interactions, educational success or failure, job performance and relationships (with friends, teachers, authority figures, romantic relationships, etc.)
Trauma is person specific when it comes to one’s reactions. This does not mean some are stronger or weaker than others, it is simply how each person is wired and our reactions are unique to situations. All of us have been through trauma at some point. There are little “t” and big “T” traumas. Little “t” traumas include divorce, sudden relocation, legal trouble, financial worries, and personal conflict. These types of traumas cause worry, frustration, and sometimes leaves people feeling helpless. Big “T” traumas include natural disasters, sexual assault, car wrecks, loss of a loved one, and witnessing violence. These types of traumas can cause severe distress and fear that can interfere with daily functioning. Left unidentified and untreated, living with these traumas can lead to maladaptive and unhealthy lifestyle choices.
Ignoring is not the answer. If ignored, a person can become depressed, angry, maladjusted at work, school, and in relationships. Also, people become more susceptible to alcohol and drug abuse when trying to numb the pain or avoid dealing with traumatic events.
It is crucial to seek help to work through trauma. For children and teens, it must happen soon after the trauma. Otherwise, they will begin to use unhealthy coping skills that can become a pattern very quickly. When dealing with trauma, it is always best to talk about it with a trained therapist.
“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.”Mr. Rogers
The benefits of working with a trained therapist after a traumatic event include realizing you still have hope, power to change, that it was not your fault, avoiding self-medication with alcohol and drugs, learning to control your emotions when triggered by the thoughts and feelings of the traumatic event, and having a safe place to share or vent about your experience.
Martha Hollingsworth, LPC