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Understanding Trauma

Trauma is a complex psychological condition that affects millions of individuals worldwide. Whether you're seeking information for yourself or a loved one, understanding trauma is the first step toward healing and recovery.

RISE clinicians are trauma-informed and will help you process through upsetting events you have experienced whether they occurred recently or a long time ago. It's never too late to get help.

Paramedic Filling a Questionnaire
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Yellow tape that reads Police Line Do Not Cross

What is a Traumatic Event?

Trauma refers to the emotional response to a distressing or disturbing event that overwhelms an individual's ability to cope. These events can range from a single incident, such as an accident or assault, to prolonged experiences like abuse or neglect.


Trauma can have a profound impact on one's emotional, psychological, and physical well-being. Seeking counseling from a therapist can help you process the trauma you have experienced, and work through the symptoms that may be affecting your everyday life.

Common Causes of Trauma

Accidents or injuries such as a car crash or workplace accident can lead to traumatic responses to situations.

Loss of a loved one whether sudden or anticipated, can result in significant emotional trauma through grief.

Medical emergencies like life-threatening illnesses, surgeries, or medical procedures can create psychological trauma.

Military combat experienced by military personnel and veterans can create trauma through life-threatening situations. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is prevalent among veterans.

Natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, or wildfires create widespread devastation and trauma. 

Neglect or abandonment experienced during childhood can cause deep-seated feelings of insecurity, low self-worth, and difficulty forming healthy attachments in adulthood.

Physical or sexual abuse including physical violence and sexual assault can have profound and long-lasting effects on an individual's mental and emotional well-being. 

Witnessing violence whether in the community, at home, or through media exposure - such as domestic violence, gang violence, or acts of terrorism - can instill trauma in individuals.

A black SUV with a crumpled front-end sits on a rainy road after an auto accident

Understanding the various causes of trauma is crucial for recognizing its impact and addressing the complex needs of individuals who have experienced traumatic events.


By acknowledging the diversity of traumatic experiences, we can provide more comprehensive support and resources for healing and recovery.

Signs of Trauma

Understanding the diverse range of physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms associated with trauma is essential for recognizing the complex ways it can impact individuals' lives. These are some of the common symptoms of trauma:

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  • Insomnia or difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing restful sleep

  • Nightmares or flashbacks related to the traumatic event

  • Fatigue or exhaustion

  • Physical pain or tension like headaches, muscle aches, neck and shoulder tension, etc.


  • Gastrointestinal distress including stomachaches, nausea, diarrhea, or constipation

  • Hypervigilance and exaggerated startle responses, even to minor stimuli

A town devastated by a tornado, which is a traumatic event

Types of Trauma

Acute trauma - resulting from a single event or experience.

Complex trauma - stemming from prolonged exposure to traumatic situations, such as childhood abuse or domestic violence.

Developmental trauma - occurring during critical stages of childhood development, impacting long-term emotional and psychological well-being.

Treatment for Trauma

Seeking professional help is essential for effectively addressing trauma. Common treatments include:

Therapy: evidence-based approaches such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) can help individuals process and cope with traumatic experiences.

Medication: in some cases, medication may be prescribed to alleviate symptoms such as anxiety, depression, or sleep disturbances.

Support groups: connecting with others who have experienced similar traumas can provide valuable support and validation.

Self-care: engaging in activities such as mindfulness, exercise, and creative expression can promote emotional healing and resilience.

A woman holding a tissue and looking somber in a therapy office

Trauma is a challenging and often overwhelming experience, but it's important to remember that healing is possible. If you or someone you know is struggling with trauma, don't hesitate to reach out for professional support. You're not alone, and there is hope for healing and growth.


We're here to support you on your journey toward healing and well-being. Are you ready to take the first step?

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