What is Trauma?

Trauma is an emotional response to a deeply distressing or disturbing experience that can have lasting effects on an individual’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being. In 2020, the American Psychological Association described how trauma can result from a single event or ongoing stressors, such as abuse, accidents, natural disasters, or violence. Coping with trauma is a crucial part of the healing process, and understanding various strategies can help individuals regain balance and control in their lives.

Understanding Trauma

Trauma can manifest through a wide range of symptoms, including anxiety, depression, irritability, sleep disturbances, flashbacks, and difficulty concentrating according to the APA.

It is essential to recognize that everyone’s experience and response to trauma is unique, meaning that different interventions are necessary for different situations. According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence(NICE) guidelines for post-traumatic stress disorder, treatment is necessary when symptoms such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, addiction, suicidality, and dissociative disorders start appearing in the victim of trauma. While not every traumatic expereince leads to PTSD, an article by Gearsons & Olff found that the risk of developing PTSD after trauma is 8-13% for men and 20-30% for women. Seeking professional help is often a vital step in the recovery journey, but there are also self-help strategies that can supplement therapy and promote resilience.

Strategies for Coping with Trauma

  1. Self-Care

Self-care is a crucial aspect of trauma recovery, and it is important to prioritize physical and emotional needs. Self-care can include a variety of things such as eating well-balaced healthy meals, exercising regularly, prioritizing sleep, and engaging in activities that bring feelings of joy and relaxation.

  1. Social Support

Connecting with others who can provide empathy, validation, and guidance is essential for healing. There are many social support systems in place in society. Support groups, either in person or online are available if reaching out to friends and family is not an option. Additionally, seeking professional advice/help from a therapist or counsellor is also a viable option if you need that it is needed.

  1. Mindfulness Techniques

Mindfulness techniques and treatments are proving to be effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety, depression, and dissociation commonly associated with trauma according to a study by Boyd et al.

  1. Creative Expression

Engaging in creative activities can provide an outlet for processing and expressing emotions related to trauma. Options include:

  • Art therapy
  • Writing
  • Music
  • Dance
  • Drama or drama therapy

Coping with trauma is a complex and individualized process, and it is important to recognize that healing takes time. By prioritizing self-care, seeking social support, practicing mindfulness, engaging in cognitive restructuring, and expressing emotions through creativity, individuals can develop resilience and work toward recovery.

Our psychotherapists in Toronto are trained in treating PTSD and other psychological and emotional issues following a traumatic experience. Our psychotherapists are also trained in art therapy, a creative approach in expressing emotions and thoughts, that can help children, teenagers, and adults in expressing unspeakable events and/or memories.

To find out more about how psychotherapy or art therapy can benefit you or your child, please contact us here.