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Let's Talk About Trauma

a girl who looks worried

A typical thing I see in clients is the realization that what they went through is considered trauma. When people sit down for their first session, they give a brief overview of current behavioral or emotional concerns without considering what might be causing these issues. I’ll give you a hint – most of the time, it’s linked to trauma. A common belief that people have is that what they’ve been through in their life can’t be considered trauma because it “wasn’t a big deal”. For most people, their view of trauma is limited to the stereotypical idea of trauma like war, a major accident, or being the victim of a crime.  

types of trauma

Trauma can usually be put into one of three categories: Acute, Chronic, or Complex. 

Acute trauma is usually due to an isolated event such as a major accident or an assault. Chronic traumas are usually events like domestic violence or frequent bullying.  As therapists, the way we explain trauma is “big T trauma” and “little T trauma”.  Big T trauma is usually an event that is or was ongoing, and little T trauma is usually an event that doesn’t involve violence or disaster but still causes emotional distress. However, the distinction between a big T trauma or a little T trauma is not to invalidate an experience – it is only used to explain to individual clients that everyone is going to process and respond to trauma differently.  An event that would be a big T trauma to you might be a little T trauma to someone else.  Everyone responds to trauma differently and the common goal for therapists is to help clients process the impact that the trauma has had on them.  

When we approach trauma, we are approaching with the knowledge that trauma can be a broad spectrum of events. Due to this, I usually tell my clients that if they’re questioning if something they went through counts as trauma – chances are that it does. Trauma doesn’t have to be something like a car accident or living through a natural disaster. With the knowledge that every trauma is different and every client is different, we take a personalized approach to treatment for each client.  This is dependent on where they are in their healing journey and what they respond best to.

girl with hands on head

The realization that an event in our lives has caused trauma for us can cause mixed feelings for clients. Some clients feel validated that someone is listening to them and not brushing off their feelings. Other clients are hit with feelings of confusion or distress – both responses are completely valid. Having the knowledge that trauma left lasting marks on you does not change who you are as a person and it doesn’t make you weak – it only adds to your ability to process how you feel and make changes.

If you find yourself wondering if what you went through was trauma and want to have the space to process this with a professional, reach out to a Mindsight therapist today!

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Shelby Case is a clinician offering in-person sessions at our Louisville office or telehealth sessions! She strives to make long-lasting connections with her clients in order to facilitate positive change. As a well-known homebody, Shelby enjoys living a cozy life outside of her time working by focusing on hobbies, spending time with her spouse, getting overly invested in TV shows, or cuddling with one of her cats.

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