Though there are many definable classifications of trauma, and certainly many perceptions of what trauma might be in today’s culture, I personally have come to understand that trauma is any occurrence(s) that exceeds our capacity to cope – physiologically, psychologically, or relationally – that has not been met with the support it needs to be integrated into our coherent sense of Self.

Trauma impacts us by challenging our innate human assumption that the World is a safe, just, predictable place, and/or that we can trust Others to protect us when it is not.

Incidents may be simple, complex, or within the context of development.  However, may simply be best understood as any event(s) or experience that leaves us disconnected, dysregulated, and in a state of dissonance – within and between Self, Other(s), and the World.  More specifically articulated, incident(s) of trauma may include:

  • Overt or covert abuse & neglect,
  • Violence including physical assault or sexual assault,
  • Moral or spiritual exploitation,
  • Relational betrayal, or
  • Adverse childhood experiences.

Trauma is often identified within the medical field as:

  • Complex Trauma (C-PTSD),
  • Acute Trauma (PTSD),
  • Attachment / Developmental Trauma,
  • Intergenerational / Collective / Historical Trauma, or
  • Vicarious or Secondary Trauma.

As Gabor Mate (2022) eloquently articulates:

Trauma is not what happens to you, but what happens inside of you… It is the constellation of hardships, composed of the wound itself and the residual burdens that our woundedness imposes on our sense of Self: the unresolved emotions that visit upon us; the coping dynamics they dictate; the scripts we unwittingly but inexorably live out; and, not least, the toll these take on our bodies.