Types of Trauma

Unfortunately, different types of trauma does not discriminate across sex, ethnicity, or geography. It is pervasive throughout the world. In fact, a World Mental Health survey conducted by the World Health Organization found that at least a third of the more than 125,000 people surveyed in 26 different countries had experienced trauma. That number rose to 70% when the group was limited to people experiencing core disorders as defined by the DSM-IV (the classification found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition). But, those numbers are just for instances that have been reported; the actual number is probably much higher. All trauma victims when ready should seek out help through therapy or even online therapy.

Trauma is the response to a deeply distressing or traumatic event that overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope, causes feelings of helplessness, diminishes their sense of self and their ability to feel a full range of emotions and experiences. While there are no objective criteria to evaluate which traumatic event will cause post-trauma symptoms, circumstances typically involve the loss of control, betrayal, abuse of power, helplessness, pain, confusion and/or loss. The event need not rise to the level of war, natural disaster, nor violence to affect a person profoundly and alter their experiences. Traumatic situations that cause post-trauma symptoms vary quite dramatically from person to person. It is very subjective, and it is important to bear in mind that it is defined more by its response than its trigger.

What is trauma?

Psychological trauma is a response to an event that a person finds highly stressful. Examples include being in a war zone, surviving a natural disaster, or a car accident. It could also be childhood neglect, domestic violence, or even an emotionally abusive relationship. Trauma can cause a wide range of physical and emotional symptoms. Not everyone who experiences a stressful event will develop trauma, and some people will develop symptoms that resolve after a few weeks, while others will have more long-term effects. With treatment, people can address the root cause of the trauma, and find constructive ways to manage their symptoms.

Types of trauma

Trauma is divided into two major categories largely based on duration. Being able to categorize trauma in this way allows therapists and other mental healthcare professionals to treat the patient more directly.

Type 1 Trauma

Type 1 refers to single-incident traumas which are unexpected. They can be referred to as big T trauma, shock, or acute trauma. A condition related to big T trauma or Type 1 trauma is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Examples of type 1 trauma might include:

  • Severe illness or injury

  • Violent assault

  • Sexual assault

  • Traumatic loss

  • Mugging or robbery

  • Being a victim of or witness to violence

  • Witnessing a terrorist attack

  • Witnessing a natural disaster

  • Road accident

  • Military combat incident

  • Hospitalization

  • Psychiatric hospitalisation

  • Childbirth

  • Medical trauma

  • Post suicide attempt trauma

  • Life-threatening illness or diagnosis

Type 2 Trauma

The second type of trauma involves more complex trauma, which may have been experienced as part of a childhood traumatic experience or early stages of development. Repetitive trauma refers to trauma, which has been repeated over a period of time and is often part of an interpersonal relationship where someone might feel trapped emotionally or physically. They may also feel as if they have been coerced or powerless to prevent the trauma.One might begin to ask How to Live with Complex PTSD or how to treat ptsd. This is A condition related to type 2 trauma is Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (complex ptsd).

Examples of type 2 trauma include:

  • Sibling abuse

  • Childhood emotional abuse

  • Domestic violence

  • Emotional neglect and attachment trauma

  • Abandonment

  • Verbal abuse

  • Coercion

  • Domestic physical abuse

  • Long term misdiagnosis of a health problem

  • Bullying at home, at school, or in a work setting

  • Sexual abuse

  • Emotional abuse

  • Physical neglect

  • Overly strict upbringing sometimes religious

Historical, Collective, or Intergenerational Trauma

This trauma is characterized by psychological or emotional difficulties which can affect different communities, cultural groups, and generations. Adaptive coping patterns can be passed intergenerationally. 

Examples might include:

  • Racism

  • Slavery

  • Forcible removal from a family or community

  • Genocide

  • War

Vicarious or Secondary Trauma

This type of trauma can occur when someone speaks to someone who has experienced a trauma or witnessed a trauma firsthand. The person listening can experience secondary trauma and experience symptoms experienced by the person explaining the trauma.

Little t trauma

Little t trauma is less prominent and discussed less often. Little traumas are experiences that are part of the every day and are an expected part of life. They may, however, be very traumatic. 

Examples might include:

  • Loss of a loved one (not traumatic bereavement)

  • Moving to a new house

  • Losing a job

Finding a trauma therapist

In order to treat trauma with trauma therapy, it’s important to find the right therapist because one might begin to ask what is behavioral therapy or what is cognitive therapy Searching for a new therapist with specific specializations can feel overwhelming if you don’t have a referral from your network. Advekit is a great resource to cut through the noise and get matched with the right therapist for you. Get matched today. 

Get Matched →