What is Considered Trauma… It May Be More Prevalent Than You Think

To continue our highlight on other medical providers within the clinic, today we are going to hear from Judy Dirks, LMHT who specializes in post trauma work. It may surprise you what is considered trauma and how it can affect you throughout your life. Due to my previous experiences, I had a narrow definition of what trauma was and once I expanded that definition, my progress with my own mental health and physical well-being grew exponentially.

This is part 1 of 2 from Judy Dirks, LMHT to help define trauma. Part 2 will consist of the impacts that trauma can have on you as a person.

​Today I wanted to share introductory information about trauma and post- traumatic stress disorder. Looking up the definition for trauma, I saw that one of the definitions of trauma is having a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. We have all had lots of distressing experiences throughout our lifetimes. The individual responses regarding trauma is not an indication of weakness but based on a person’s nervous system and past distressing life events.

​So, what kinds of traumas cause ongoing emotional reactions? In trauma literature they talk about “Big T” and “Little T” trauma. 

  • Big T traumas are those experiences that everyone can identify as disturbing such a life-threatening accident, rape, physical abuse, war, or a weather event that ends up destroying one’s home are just a few to name. 
  • Little T traumas include non-life-threatening injuries, emotional abuse, death of a pet, bullying or harassment, and loss of significant relationships.

​Another type of trauma is developmental trauma in which there are several adverse childhood events. Those traumas have the potential to stay with you for a long time and research has shown adverse childhood experiences are connected to numerous medical issues for the grown adults who never have done counseling. 

​Sometimes we are traumatized by events happening around us even if we aren’t personally impacted by, such as the mass shootings that have become prevalent over the last decade, the pandemic and news of so many deaths, and the divisive nature of politics.