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Trauma and Traumatic Grief

Trauma and Traumatic Grief

Understanding Trauma

When a bad thing happens, we often do not know what to do or where to turn.  Our body may be reacting in ways that feels unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and frightening.  Understanding what trauma is can often help us know what the next step that is right for us.

Trauma is defined as “a deeply distressing or disturbing event”.  Examples of traumatic events include abuse (physical, emotional, or sexual), neglect due to impaired caregivers, witnessing/experiencing domestic violence, being in a potentially fatal accident, and being part of a natural disaster.  These are just a few examples of what might be considered trauma for an individuals.  After these events occur, individuals may start to experiences certain symptoms including:

  • difficulty sleeping, trouble concentrating, irritability, and unexplained anger
  • intrusive memories, flashbacks, and nightmares
  • feeling disconnected from oneself, feeling emotionally “numb”, withdrawing from others, and hopelessness
  • persistent negative thoughts and feelings about oneself or the world around them, and excessive worry or fear

These symptoms are are a normal and natural response to a really bad experience.  Other people that have experienced trauma react in the same ways.  This is due to our body’s normal stress response system, commonly called “fight or flight response”, has gone into “over drive”.   If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, there is hope.  You can work with a person who is trained in working with individuals who have experienced trauma.  They can help you learn new skills to cope with the feelings of “being on edge”, and they will help support you in a gradual process of identifying the negative thoughts and feelings that are holding you back from happiness and wholeness.  You have taken the first step by being here and learning more about trauma.

The choice model for treating trauma and traumatic grief in children and teens (ages 3 – 18) is Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT).  TF-CBT is an evidenced based intervention that helps children and adolescents process traumatic experiences.  Trauma can include abuse, neglect, experiencing natural disaster or near death accident, chronic bullying, witnessed violence, or separation from caregivers among others.  This therapy is 90% effective at reducing trauma related symptoms.