Fall semester topics

PTSD (Surviving Psychological Trauma)

What kinds of events can cause psychological trauma?

Traumatic events come in many forms and are generally distinguished from more commonplace misfortunes by the severity of the event and the intensity of a person's reactions to it. Psychological trauma can result from a single, one-time traumatic event such as sexual assault, physical attacks, car accidents, natural disasters, crimes, deaths, and other violent events. It can also include responses to chronic or repetitive stressful experiences such as child sexual and physical abuse, battering relationships, bullying, neglect, urban violence, and combat. However, different people will react differently to similar events. One person may perceive an event to be traumatic that another may not and not all people who experience a traumatic event will become psychologically traumatized.

How do I know if my experience is considered traumatic?

Psychological trauma is the personal experience or witnessing of a highly stressful event in which:

1. The individual is overwhelmed and unable to cope with his/her emotional reaction to the event, or
2. The individual experiences an intense fear, helplessness, loss of control, or threat to life or bodily integrity.
Thus, psychological trauma is caused by experiencing a traumatic event that overwhelms a person's ability to cope and leaves them fearing death, bodily injury, or psychological damage

How can I begin to cope with the effects of traumatic experiences?

Recovery from psychological trauma is often a difficult and gradual process. When a trauma survivor takes direct action to cope with problems, they often feel a greater sense of personal power and control. Positive coping actions are those that help to reduce anxiety or other distressing reactions, and improve the situation in a way that does not harm the survivor further. Positive coping methods can include:

Learning about trauma and its effects
Talking to another person for support
Practicing relaxation methods
Challenging negative thoughts and beliefs
Increasing positive and enjoyable activities
Calling a counselor for help

Where do I begin?

If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of psychological trauma, speaking with a trained professional can be extremely helpful. You can heal from this experience! Make an appointment with a professional who will understand what you have been through. Source info

  • Online reading: Think you’ve got a terrible memory? You don’t know the half of it!
  • Recommended books

    1. Herman, Judith L. (1992). Trauma and recovery. New York: Harper Collins.
    2. Allen, Jon G. (1999). Coping with trauma: A guide to self-understanding. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.
    3. Matsakis, Aphrodite (1996). I can't get over it: A handbook for trauma survivors. New Harbinger Publishers.
    4. Janoff-Bulman, Ronnie (1992). Shattered assumptions: Towards a new psychology of trauma. Free Press.
    5. Rosenbloom, Dena & Williams, Mary Beth (1999). Life after trauma: A workbook for healing. Guilford Press.
    6. Giller, Esther, What is psychological trauma? The Sidran Foundation.
    7. Carlson, Eve B. & Ruzek, Joseph. Effects of traumatic experiences. The National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

    Additional web resources