What is Trauma?
Many people think of trauma in the context of war or abuse or assault. These are certainly examples of trauma, but trauma is not limited to such events. A number of different incidents, such as a car accident, an abusive relationship, break in trust or violation of boundaries, or any type of loss can be traumatic. Trauma is any sudden, unexpected negative event that affects a given person. It can help to think of it as an intense, unexpected or sudden negative learning experience that the world is not safe.
At Bloor West Therapy, we understand that everyone experiences trauma differently. What may be impactful for one person, may be more easily processed for another. We work with all different types of trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to help clients process the event(s) or circumstances and improve the quality of their lives.
Trauma-Informed Therapy at BWT
- There are many different trauma treatments out there. Many follow a manual and are very structured.
- They often involve imagined exposure and detailed recounting of what happened.
- We do not use exposure-based trauma treatments at Bloor West Therapy.
- We have found, over the years, that it is not necessary to recount every detail of the trauma to benefit from the therapy.
- Instead, we will ask in general terms about what happened, but focus more on meaning-making regarding the trauma and as a result how it has changed you and your world.
- We work to restore your sense of safety and help you integrate what happened into your life story in a way that helps you move forward.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if I have experienced trauma?
We can tell that you have likely experienced trauma if your general sense of safety has been shaken, your sleep may be disrupted, and you may feel easily startled or jumpy at sudden noises. You may be checking your surroundings more than before and may have the ability to trust people if the trauma was caused by other humans. Trauma symptoms can be viewed in 3 large categories: anxiety, depression, and re-experiencing. Anxiety has to do with fear and nervousness, and often causes people to use avoidance as a way of managing it. Depression affects your mood, you may be irritable or angry, and see the world, yourself, or others more negatively than before. Re-experiencing includes nightmares and flashbacks.
Do I have to talk about the details?
If you would like to, we are here to listen. But it sharing details is not necessary for fruitful therapy. We can work with a general account of what happened and will focus more on how this has impacted you, your thoughts, feelings, and view of the world. There are therapy approaches that do ask you to share details, but we do not use those practices.
What is the difference between trauma and PTSD?
Not everyone who experiences trauma develops PTSD. PTSD includes a lot of different symptoms from the 3 categories described above, but you may have trauma symptoms without meeting criteria for the diagnosis of PTSD. About 20% of people who have experienced trauma, develop PTSD. Others may experience some symptoms such as anxiety or mood, or intrusive memories, but not as intensely and not as long. The symptoms may resolve with time. PTSD does not tend to resolve with time by itself, it requires treatment.