Center for Trauma Studies

Trauma is the psychological response to one or more harmful events that exceed the individual's ability to cope or effectively adapt. People who experience traumatic incidents are often left with the feeling that the world is an unsafe and dangerous place. This leads to questioning their ability to do anything meaningful to control their lives, protect their wellbeing or to insure the wellbeing of others around them. Some common reactions to trauma are anger, depression, hopelessness, and feeling isolated, alone and misunderstood. They may also suffer from intrusive thoughts and flashbacks, muted emotional responses and extreme reactions to unexpected events. It is not uncommon for the person to pull back from friends, family and previously enjoyed activities after the experience.

Types of Trauma

Pain and suffering comes in a variety of forms and in response to a multiplicity of interpersonal and environmental conditions. What individuals consider "traumatic" also differs depending on who is asked. Below is a small sample of some of the most prominent forms of trauma.

  • Combat Trauma
  • Rape & Sexual Abuse
  • Secondary Trauma

Linked Diagnosis

Crises have the potential to amplify preexisting problems or lead people to adopt unhealthy behaviors and beliefs about themselves, others and the world around them. Clinicians use the words "comorbid," "comorbidity" and "linked diagnoses" to describe mental disorders that have a tendency to exist within the same person. Ideally, all of these conditions must be taken into account if holistic wellness is to be achieved.

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Alcohol/Substance Abuse
  • Depression
  • Anxiety/Panic
  • Dissociation


There are a variety of methods to effectively deal with the aftermath of trauma through formal counseling, medication or self-care. In extreme cases, the individual may need hospitalization, group counseling or outpatient services, but this is not the set response for everyone who has experienced prolonged abuse or a tragic situation. Successful recovery lies in recognizing the relationship among the type of trauma, the timing of the intervention and the individual's personal resources.

Traditional Psychotherapy

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
  • Psychoanalytic Therapy
  • Pharmacological Therapy

Alternative Approaches

  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Energy Therapy
  • Critical Incident Stress Management

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