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Child and Family Psychologist in Derbyshire
Call us on 07754 439891
email: admin@percuropsychology.co.uk

What is Trauma?

Psychological trauma happens when someone experiences something frightening, distressing or disturbing that feels outside of their control. These events can make a person feel extremely scared, helpless, and unsafe. Trauma can come from many different situations, such as physical or sexual assault, accidents, natural disasters, war, or the sudden loss of a loved one. Understanding trauma helps us support those affected and shows them that they are not alone.

It is not just about the event or events themselves, it's about how it makes a person feel. When something terrifying happens, it can overwhelm a person's ability to cope. Our brains are designed to handle threats with a fight-or-flight response. But sometimes, the stress is so intense that it leaves a lasting impact, making it hard for the person to feel safe again. Everyone reacts to trauma differently based on their past experiences and support from others.

Types of Trauma

  1. Acute Trauma: This comes from a single, intense event, like an accident or an attack. It can be shocking and hard to process.
  2. Chronic Trauma: This results from ongoing, stressful situations, such as repeated health crises requiring hospital treatment. The constant stress wears down a person’s ability to cope.
  3. Complex/ Relational Trauma: This involves repeated traumatic events involving someone close to the person, like experiencing abuse as a child, or ongoing domestic abuse. It can deeply affect a person’s sense of self and trust in others.

Signs of Trauma

Trauma can show up in many ways, both emotionally and physically. Some common emotional signs include:

  • Unwanted memories or flashbacks of the event
  • Nightmares
  • Intense anxiety or panic attacks
  • Avoiding anything related to the trauma
  • Feeling numb or detached from others
  • Interpersonal or relationship difficulties
  • Guilt, shame, or self-blame
  • Dissociation
  • Feeling worthless, defeated or diminished

Physical signs can include:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Always feeling tired
  • Being easily startled
  • Unexplained aches and pains

People who have experienced one or more traumatic events and are experiencing the above symptoms, may receive a diagnosis from a healthcare professional of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

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How Trauma Affects Daily Life

Trauma can make everyday life very difficult. People may struggle to maintain relationships, keep jobs/attend school, or enjoy activities they once loved. The constant fear and helplessness can lead to isolation, making them feel even more alone. For people who have experienced relational trauma, trusting and connecting with others can feel frightening.

Healing from Trauma

2 out of 3 people who are suffering after a traumatic experience improve without any treatment after a few weeks. For people who are continuing to struggle after a few weeks, or those who have experienced repeated trauma are likely to need professional support. NICE Guidelines recommend the following therapeutic approaches or adults and children who are experiencing PTSD:

  • Trauma Focused CBT
  • EMDR

Children who have experienced relational or complex trauma may benefit from Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP).

Support from family and friends, physical activities, and mindfulness practices also play a big role in healing. Building a support network and finding healthy ways to cope are essential steps toward recovery.


Psychological trauma is a serious and personal experience that affects people deeply. Understanding what trauma is and how it shows up helps us support those who are hurting. With the right help and support, people can heal, feel safe again, and live fulfilling lives. Showing compassion and understanding can make a big difference in their journey to recovery.