Types of trauma
Trauma can be experienced in a number of different settings. Settings might include home life, at school, the work place, in the wider community or in a war zone.
Whether an event is deemed traumatic is defined by the 'objective experience' of it rather than the event itself.
We have provided a breakdown of experiences which might typify a traumatic experience.
There are two main categories of trauma. Types 1 and type 2.
Type 1 Trauma
Type 1 refers to single-incident traumas which are unexpected and come out of the blue. They can be referred to as big T trauma, shock or acute trauma. A condition related to big T trauma or Type 1 trauma is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Examples of type 1 trauma might include:
- Severe illness or injury
- Violent assault
- Sexual assault
- Traumatic loss
- Mugging or robbery
- Being a victim of or witness to violence
- Witnessing a terrorist attack
- Witnessing a natural disaster
- Road accident
- Military combat incident
- Psychiatric hospitalisation
- Medical trauma
- Post suicide attempt trauma
- Life threatening illness or diagnosis
- Type II or Complex trauma
Type 2 Trauma
Complex trauma describes trauma which may have been experienced as part of childhood or early stages of development.
Repetitive trauma refers to trauma which has been repeated over a period of time and is often part of an interpersonal relationship where someone might feel trapped emotionally or physically. They may also feel as if they have been coerced or powerless to prevent the trauma.
A condition related to type 2 trauma is Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Examples of type 2 trauma include:
- Sibling abuse
- Childhood emotional abuse
- Domestic violence
- Emotional neglect and attachment trauma
- Verbal abuse
- Domestic physical abuse
- Long term misdiagnosis of a health problem
- Bullying at home at school or in a work setting
- Sexual abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Physical neglect
- Overly strict upbringing sometimes religious
Historical, Collective or Intergenerational Trauma
This trauma is characterized by psychological or emotional difficulties which can affect different communities, cultural groups and generations. Adaptive coping patterns can be passed intergenerationally. Examples might include:
- Forcible removal from a family or community
Vicarious or Secondary Trauma
This type of trauma can occur when someone speaks to someone who has experienced a trauma or witnessed a trauma first hand. The person listening can experience secondary trauma and experience symptoms experienced by the person explaining the trauma.
Little t trauma
Little t trauma is less prominent and discussed less often. Little t traumas are experiences which are part of the everyday and are an expected part of life. They may however be very traumatic. Examples might include:
- Loss of a loved one
- Moving to a new house
- Losing a job
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