Part I: Trauma
The diagnostic criteria for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has narrowed our view of trauma; it has made us assume that trauma means exposure to the actual experience or threat of death, serious injury, or sexual violence. While these are certainly examples of trauma, the psychological and helping communities are recognizing the validity and helpfulness of broadening our definitions of trauma. Francine Shapiro, founder of EMDR treatment (an evidence-based trauma treatment), is known for using the language of large-T Trauma and small-t trauma to include sometimes disregarded experiences as trauma. As a professional counselor, I have found broader definitions of trauma to be helpful to clients processing and healing from their own difficult life experiences.
Trauma comes from the Greek word that literally means “wound.” With this simple meaning at its origin, I propose the following broader definition for trauma:
Trauma is a significantly distressing event that creates overwhelming difficulties for the one experiencing it; it often results in re-experiencing the event, negative changes to the person’s worldview (especially view of self), and difficulty coping with the negative emotions and beliefs that result.
As a helping professional, I have many roles – providing therapy is the most obvious, however, I feel passionate about educating others in ways that contribute to the healing and wellness of my clients and broader communities. When it comes to trauma, I am working to treat individuals who have experienced trauma and work with them to build resilience and heal. Additionally, I aim to add my voice to educate on the pervasive presence and effects of trauma in our communities, in order to advocate for increased awareness, empathy, and competent treatment.