The Types of Trauma


Types of Trauma…

Trauma is a fact of life. No one escapes a trauma or being subject to a traumatic experience in their lives. The list below is certainly not comprehensive, but if you feel anxious, sad, or angry about something traumatic that occurred in your life, either recently or long ago, it is possible that you are experiencing the effects of trauma.

1) Sexual abuse or assault. Sexual abuse or assault includes unwanted or coercive sexual contact, exposure to age-inappropriate sexual material or environments, and sexual exploitation.

2) Physical abuse or assault. Physical abuse or assault is defined as the actual or attempted infliction of physical pain (with or without the use of an object or weapon), including the use of severe corporeal punishment.

3) Emotional abuse or psychological maltreatment. Emotional abuse and psychological maltreatment are considered acts of commission (other than physical or sexual abuse) against an individual. These kinds of acts, which include verbal abuse, emotional abuse, and excessive demands or expectations, may cause an individual to experience conduct, cognitive, affective, or other mental disturbances.

4) Serious accident, illness, or medical procedure. Trauma can occur when a person experiences an unintentional injury or accident, a physical illness, or medical procedures that are extremely painful and/or life threatening.

5) Military trauma. Military trauma refers to both the impact of deployment and trauma-related stress on people who are deployed and their families. Significant numbers of returning service men and women experience mental and/or substance use disorders associated with military trauma and/or military sexual trauma.

6) Traumatic grief or separation. Traumatic grief and/or separation may include the death of a parent, primary caretaker, or sibling; abrupt and/or unexpected, accidental, or premature death or homicide of a close friend, family member, or other close relative; abrupt, unexplained and/or indefinite separation from a parent, primary caretaker, or sibling due to uncontrollable circumstances.

7) Secondary trauma. Being a witness to any type of traumatic event that may or may not directly impact you, such as a car accident, domestic violence, war, bullying, school violence, etc.

There are many other types of trauma that may be causing disruption in your life or the life of someone you love, including historical trauma, natural disasters, bullying, forced displacement, neglect, and retraumatization. For more information on types of trauma and to learn if you might be experiencing the effects of trauma, visit

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…And How to Recover

Believe it or not, there is good news about trauma recovery. With evidence-based treatment techniques, many survivors find the strength and ability to move forward without trauma dictating their daily actions and emotions.

1) Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR therapy is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR is effective for treating post-traumatic stress as well as a variety of trauma- and anxiety-induced conditions, such as panic attacks, complicated grief, dissociative disorders, disturbing memories, phobias, pain disorders, performance anxiety, stress reduction, addictions, sexual or physical abuse, body dysmorphic disorders, and personality disorders. EMDR works by interrupting the normal brain processes when experiencing a traumatic memory so that you are able to remember a traumatic event without reliving it and separate yourself from the trauma.

2) Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT). TF-CBT is an evidence-based treatment for children and adolescents impacted by trauma and their parents or caregivers. TF-CBT successfully resolves a broad array of emotional and behavioral difficulties associated with trauma experiences. TF-CBT is effective in treating post-traumatic stress disorder, although a PTSD diagnosis is not necessary to undergo treatment, and it has also been shown to aid recovery with depression, anxiety, and behavioral problems stemming from a trauma.

3) Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT). PCIT is an evidence-based treatment for young children with emotional and behavioral disorders that places emphasis on improving the quality of the parent-child relationship and changing parent-child interaction patterns. Children and their caregivers are seen together in PCIT. PCIT can teach a parent or caregiver how to manage the post-traumatic behaviors of a child and help that child heal from trauma in a nurturing, productive way while protecting the parent from being traumatized by an inability to help.

The Charleston Counseling Center has therapists trained in treatment modalities that can help anyone experiencing the side effects of trauma. If you think any of these experiences apply to you or a loved one, or if you have anxiety but can’t quite pinpoint the cause, please give us a call.

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