The Importance of Processing Trauma
In the National Comorbidity Survey, a research study of 9,282 Americans aged 18 to 54, 60% of men and 51% of women in the United States had experienced at least one traumatic event in their lives. With these types of statistics plus highly publicized traumatic stress disorders such as PTSD, it’s no surprise that there has been extensive research and development on techniques revolving around the importance of processing trauma.
What Exactly is “Trauma”?
In order to discuss the importance of processing trauma, we first must understand the two types of trauma and their effects. You’ve all heard someone proclaim that they have been “traumatized” by their divorce or by being fired from their job. These types of events and events like them are considered small ‘t’ traumas. These traumas are inevitable in life and they are often overcome without the need of additional resources. They are a necessary part of human development as they allow individuals to develop resilience and improve coping mechanisms which promote growth and maturity.
Because the perception of a threat is entirely subjective and based on each individual’s unique personality traits, genetics, social environment, and past experiences, causes of trauma vary drastically.
To be considered large “T” trauma, the experience(s), whatever it(they) happened to be, must have overwhelmed the individual’s coping ability, thus leading to lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.
The Lasting Adverse Effects of Trauma
In the aftermath of trauma, the spectrum of individual responses are quite complicated. They are affected by each individual’s own experiences, their ability to access natural support systems, their coping and life skills and those of their immediate family, and the societal responses and norms dictating what is appropriate in their larger community.
Many individuals will experience trauma in their lifetime and most will naturally develop resilient behaviors to overcome small ‘t’ traumas on their own. We sometimes forget the importance of processing trauma because it may become second nature in cases of small ‘t’ trauma. However, the majority of large ‘T’ trauma victims will exhibit some combination of emotional, physical, cognitive, behavioral, social, or developmental reactions that will hinder their emotional and physical wellbeing and future development.
As a clear example, early ACEs such as abuse, neglect, and other traumas affect brain development and increase a person’s vulnerability to encountering interpersonal violence as an adult and to developing chronic diseases and other physical illnesses, mental illnesses, substance-related disorders, and impairment in other life areas. The aftereffects of a traumatic experience are not something you can just “snap out of” and there are no quick fixes for the suffering associated with a traumatic experience. The importance of processing trauma for these large ‘T” traumas lies in the necessity to mitigate the serious negative consequences that arise and worsen over time if not properly addressed.
Seeking Treatment: Time is of the Essence
If you or a loved one is a survivor of psychological trauma, it's crucial to get help as soon as possible. The importance of processing trauma for healthy future development has been extensively documented and should not be ignored. Furthermore, prolonging recovery cannot only stunt one’s development and maturity, but can lead to secondary problems convoluting and compounding an already overwhelming experience and leading to increased damage that must be overcome.
At Sample Therapy, we specialize in the leading edge trauma therapy techniques outlined above. We offer both group and individual therapy sessions for those looking to recover from a traumatic experience. All of our therapists understand and respect that going through a traumatic event, or series of events, can affect all parts of your life.
If you are ready to start the healing process, give us a call today at (720) 684-6309.