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Trauma Informed Care


What Is Trauma?

Trauma is defined by the American Psychological Association (APA) as the emotional response someone has to an extremely negative event. While trauma is a normal reaction to a horrible event, the effects can be so severe that they interfere with an individual’s ability to live a normal life. In a case such as this, help may be needed to treat the stress and dysfunction caused by the traumatic event and to restore the individual to a state of emotional well-being. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSAH) identifies trauma as results from an event or a series of events that subsequently causes intense physical and psychological stress reactions.

Trauma is often but not always associated with being present at the site of a trauma-inducing event. It is also possible to sustain trauma after witnessing something from a distance. Young children are especially vulnerable to trauma and should be psychologically examined after a traumatic event has occurred to ensure their emotional well-being.

Types of Trauma

  • Community Violence
  • Complex Trauma
  • Domestic Violence
  • Early Childhood Trauma
  • Medical Trauma
  • Natural Disasters
  • Neglect
  • Physical Abuse
  • Refugee Trauma
  • School Violence
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Terrorism
  • Traumatic Grief

What Is Trauma Informed Care?

Trauma Informed Care is an organizational structure and treatment framework that involves understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of all types of trauma. Some of the most common traumatic experiences include violence, abuse, neglect, disaster, terrorism, and war.

What Are The Effects Of Trauma?

People of all ages, ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, and economic conditions may experience trauma. Trauma can affect a person’s functional ability - including interacting with others, performing at work, and sleeping - and contribute to responses - including isolation, anxiety, substance abuse, and over eating or under eating - that can increase health risks.

While the causes and symptoms of trauma are various, there are some basic signs of trauma that you can look out for. People who have endured traumatic events will often appear shaken and disoriented. They may not respond to conversation as they normally would and will often appear withdrawn or not present even when speaking.

Another telltale sign of a trauma victim is anxiety. Anxiety due to trauma can manifest in problems such as night terrors, edginess, irritability, poor concentration and mood swings. While these symptoms of trauma are common, they are not exhaustive. Individuals respond to trauma in different ways. Sometimes trauma is virtually unnoticeable even to the victim’s closest friends and family. These cases illustrate the importance of talking to someone after a traumatic event has occurred, even if they show no initial signs of disturbance. Trauma can manifest days, months or even years after the actual event.

  • Emotional Symptoms of Trauma
    Emotion is one of the most common ways in which trauma manifests. Some common emotional symptoms of trauma include denial, anger, sadness and emotional outbursts. Victims of trauma may redirect the overwhelming emotions they experience toward other sources, such as friends or family members. This is one of the reasons why trauma is difficult for loved ones as well. It is hard to help someone who pushes you away, but understanding the emotional symptoms that come after a traumatic event can help ease the process.
  • Physical Symptoms of Trauma
    Trauma often manifests physically as well as emotionally. Some common physical signs of trauma include paleness, lethargy, fatigue, poor concentration and a racing heartbeat. The victim may have anxiety or panic attacks and be unable to cope in certain circumstances. The physical symptoms of trauma can be as real and alarming as those of physical injury or illness, and care should be taken to manage stress levels after a traumatic event.

Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Trauma

All effects of trauma can take place either over a short period of time or over the course of weeks or even years. Any effects of trauma should be addressed immediately to prevent permanence. The sooner the trauma is addressed, the better chance a victim has of recovering successfully and fully.

Short-term and long-term effects of trauma can be similar, but long-term effects are generally more severe. Short-term mood changes are fairly normal after trauma, but if the shifts in mood last for longer than a few weeks, a long-term effect can occur.

Is There a Test or Self-Assessment I Can Do?

While there are online assessments available for trauma, professional assessment is recommended over self-assessment. The victim or loved one will be biased and predisposed to see certain things, while a professional is objective and trained to compensate for bias.

If you would like more information on getting a professional assessment for yourself or a loved one who has experienced trauma, call 1-877-789-2613. Our friendly staff are available to take your call and provide you with all the information you need to start your recovery.

Links to Additional Information and Resources

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