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What is Trauma?

Today, there are a number of different trauma therapies available to patients, as well as trauma therapists to administer this therapy. This is important because trauma is one of the most common reasons people seek therapy.

In the trauma field, there are two types of trauma that exist – “Big T trauma” and “Little T Trauma”.

Big T Trauma most commonly refers to a traumatic event or events in which a person’s physical survival is threatened. These events are usually life and death situations, or ones where there is an extreme physical or psychological abuse involved. Some common examples of Big T Traumas include muggings, car accidents, other types of accidents, sexual assaults, experiences while under anesthesia, or the loss of a loved one.

Often after experiencing Big T trauma, people will develop symptoms such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), panic attacks, anxiety, depression among others. These traumas will also cause a person to develop beliefs about oneself such as “ I am not safe”, “I am powerless”, or even “ I am a bad person”.

Little T Traumas are more common and typically things that everyone has encountered.  Such traumas can include failures, disappointments with someone they consider important, painful breakups or work-related stresses like getting fired. While these traumas are not threatening to a person’s survival in the physical sense, they are capable of having long-lasting effects on a person’s self-esteem and emotional well being.

While a person can typically “get over” such traumas, these events are still capable of informing our view of the world and ourselves – usually in negative, maladaptive ways.

Post Little T Traumas, symptoms like anxiety and depression maybe be experienced. Usually, however, they will be shorter lasting and less severe.  It can also become normal to experience negative self-referencing beliefs such as “There is something wrong with me” or “I am a failure”.

Whether you experience a Big T or Little T Trauma, it is advisable to deal with these issues with a trained therapist in individual counseling so they do not impact your daily life.