Friday, March 2, 2018

What is trauma?

I most often talk about trauma in reference to children who suffer from Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and the families who raise them but I'm often asked, "Well, what exactly constitutes a trauma?"

Psychological trauma is an individual's experience of a one-time occurrence or ongoing condition where:
1. The individual cannot integrate their emotional experience (overwhelm) or
2. The individual experiences a threat to life, body, or sanity.1

Common examples:
  • Experiencing war as a soldier or close to home
  • Assault: physical or sexual 
  • Domestic violence: experiencing directly or witnessing2
  • Adult abusing child: physical, psychological, sexual
  • Natural disasters 
  • Terrorist attack
Less common examples:
  • Witnessing3 death or injury
  • Child on child abuse: physical, psychological, sexual
  • Divorce
  • Adoption, even as an infant. (Loss of bio family at best, or worse, the child is removed from the bio home because of abuse or neglect.)
  • Neglect: emotional and physical
  • Verbal abuse
  • Psychological abuse
  • Abandonment
  • Incest 
  • Nontraditional domestic violence (where a child harms the family): experiencing directly or witnessing2
  • Medical interventions
You may be thinking, "Oh please, my parents divorced and I'm just fine." Your point is valid--for you. Here's the thing about trauma though: it's a subjective experience of an objective event. Not everyone responds to an event the same way. Two people can experience the exact same thing, one will walk away unscathed and the other will be traumatized.

The more powerless you feel in a frightening situation, the more traumatized you will be. 

Psychological effects are likely to be most severe if the trauma is:
  1. Human caused 
  2. Repeated 
  3. Unpredictable 
  4. Multifaceted 
  5. Sadistic
  6. Undergone in childhood 
  7. And perpetrated by a caregiver3
And that is where many of the children with Reactive Attachment Disorder come from. When you read that list, it's not hard to understand why these children are the way they are.

Hi, I'm Julia and I'm a trauma-informed certified Equine Gestalt Coach, Reiki Master, and artist. I combine my skills to create an individualized care plan for each client. As an adoptive mother of two (one healthy and one with RAD), I am intimately familiar with the trials and tribulations RAD moms and their glass children face as they navigate the muddy waters of life with a mentally ill child. While I see many types of people in my practice, my heart and my specialty is the health and healing of RAD moms and their glass children. 
Learn more at The Mother Ranch.

1Pearlman & Saakvitne, 1995, pg 60

2 Witnessing trauma: The more attached you are to the victim, the greater the distress. It is particularly horrifying for a child to witness violence in any form toward their mother/primary caregiver both in and of itself and for fear of losing their main source of security.

No comments:

Post a Comment