Blog

What is emotional and psychological trauma?

Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless in a dangerous world. Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety, but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and alone can be traumatic, even if it doesn’t involve physical harm. It’s not the objective facts that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your subjective emotional experience of the event. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatized.

Emotional and psychological trauma can be caused by:

One-time events, such as an accident, injury, natural disaster, or violent attack

Ongoing, relentless stress, such as living in a crime-ridden neighborhood or battling a life-threatening illness

Commonly overlooked causes, such as surgery (especially in the first 3 years of life), the sudden death of someone close, the breakup of a significant relationship, or a humiliating or deeply disappointing experience

Treatment for psychological and emotional trauma

In order to heal from psychological and emotional trauma, you must face and resolve the unbearable feelings and memories you’ve long avoided. Trauma treatment and healing involves processing trauma-related memories and feelings, discharging pent-up “fight-or-flight” energy, learning how to regulate strong emotions, and rebuilding the ability to trust other people.

Therapy approaches

The following therapies are commonly used in the treatment of emotional and psychological trauma:

Somatic experiencing focuses on bodily sensations, rather than thoughts and memories about the traumatic event. By concentrating on what’s happening in your body, you can release pent-up trauma-related energy through shaking, crying, and other forms of physical release.

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) incorporates elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy with eye movements or other forms of rhythmic, left-right stimulation that can “unfreeze” traumatic memories.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps you process and evaluate your thoughts and feelings about a trauma.

 

Reprint from: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/ptsd-trauma/emotional-and-psychological-trauma.htm