This write up attempts to throw some light on trauma,  highlight its symptoms and explain why it is so important for a young person to access support if they have experienced trauma. 

What is Trauma?

Trauma is the Greek for word for 'WOUND'

We experience trauma from any encounter we find deeply distressing or harmful and overwhelms our ability to cope, now and in the future.

It is an occurrence which is perceived to put a person's life, the life of others or their personal integrity under threat.  Often it is a physical or emotional experience which exceeds ones ability to respond adequately.

The response to trauma can often be that of horror, fear, helplessness or overwhelm.  These can be experienced in the immediate aftermath of the event, or in the long term.  Trauma can also cause physical symptoms.

Trauma can result from witnessing a serious motor accident, being a victim of war or victim of rape and can have lifelong effects on a person's well-being.  Not everyone who experiences a stressful event will develop trauma,  What results in trauma for one person, may not impact another person in the same way.

If symptoms of trauma recur in severity without relenting, this could mean the person has developed post-traumatic stress disorder. (PTSD), a mental health disorder. 

What are the different kinds of Trauma?

Acute Trauma which results from a one-off distressing or dangerous experience that is limited in time.

Chronic Trauma occurs over a period of time from repeated and protracted experiences to highly distressing events. Being the victim of an abusive relationship or having a close family member suffer a long term illness could result in chronic trauma.

Complex Trauma also results from experiencing multiple traumatic events and is usually caused by an adult entrusted with looking after a child or young person. Complex trauma is associated with a feeling of loss and deep sense of betrayal in the victim, by the perpetrator. Complex trauma describes both the exposure to the trauma and the impact of such exposure on the young person. 

Secondary trauma or vicarious trauma is another kind of trauma.  Here a person can develop trauma symptoms from close contact with someone who has experienced trauma. Close associates, family members or health professionals looking after someone who is traumatised can experience secondary trauma. The symptoms are similar to those of PTSD {mentioned earlier.}                                                                                                             

As previously stated, trauma can be experienced both physically and emotionally: 

Some emotional responses are 







Difficulty concentrating 




Some physical symptoms are 




Racing heart 

When a young person is impacted by trauma it needs to be acknowledged, validated and looked into. To not not address the trauma could put them, their mental health and their future at great risk.

It is difficult for a young person to make sense of the experience.  A disconnect can result between their feelings, how they make sense of their feelings and how they can then manage these feelings. This is called dissociation.

When working with a traumatised young person In therapy, safety is paramount. The young person must be safe and feel safe within. The trauma can then be looked at by focusing on the inside, which might create a feeling of vulnerability.  Any perceived external threat will make it difficult for the young person to look on the inside. This is being safe and feeling safe within is crucial to processing the trauma.

Bearing all this in mind, a young person can recover from a traumatic experience.