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Psychological or emotional trauma is a response to an event that a person finds highly stressful, frightening or distressing.


Traumas mean situations or events we find traumatic (rape, accident, natural disaster, kidnapping, abuse, neglect, etc), being directly harmed or witnessing harm to someone else, living in a traumatic atmosphere, being affected by trauma in a family or community.


Trauma can happen at any age and cause a wide range of physical and emotional symptoms. 

Image by Kat J

Some people use the term Adverse Childhood Experiences (known as ACEs) to describe stressful or difficult experiences in childhood, including sexual, physical or emotional abuse or neglect. Research has shown links between these types of experiences and both physical and mental health problems.

Common effects of trauma are flashbacks (reliving aspects of a traumatic event or feeling as if it is happening now), panic attacks, dissociation (numbness, spaced out, detached from your body, which are all ways to cope), hyperarousal (feeling very anxious, jumpy, on edge and unable to relax), sleep problems, low self-esteem, anger, withdrawal, grief, self-harm, suicidal feelings, alcohol and substance misuse, feelings of self-blame and shame.

Dr Gabor Mate is a worldwide trauma expect and he believes that "Trauma is a psychic wound that hardens you psychologically that then interferes with your ability to grow and develop. It pains you and now you're acting out of pain. It induces fear and now you're acting out of fear. Trauma is not what happens to you, it's what happens inside you as a result of what happened to you".

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Counselling can help people who have experienced trauma to talk about and confront what happened, express their emotions in a safe and confidential place, find a way to manage their feelings, think through how their life has changed.

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