There are two main types of trauma:

  • Physical trauma: a serious injury to the body, i.e. blunt force trauma, penetrating trauma, etc.
  • Psychological trauma: damage to the mind that occurs because of a distressing event, i.e. a car crash.

In the eyes of the world, one is easier to see than the other. If you have the misfortune of having a physical accident, this may result in you breaking your arm. People can easily identify with this for two main reasons. Primarily, they can see the cast that has been skilfully placed upon your arm to encourage the healing of the bones. Most people can also throughout their lives identify with breaking a bone, as it is quite a common occurrence, usually through over-explorative exploits as a child. People can also readily make the connection between the brake and the feeling of pain, and therefore there is a greater chance that an individual will empathise with your predicament.

Psychological trauma, however, is far harder to identify, as there are no physical indications that an individual is in distress. In fact, due to the nature of mental health stigma, it is often betrayed that an individual will put on a persona to tell the world that everything is fine, rather than admit that they may have a significant problem that needs addressing. The nature of psychological trauma means that it is hard for people to empathise unless they have been in a situation which is similar, as it is hard to empathise with a specific pain you cannot see. This leaves people feeling isolated and often trapped within their own minds, even though there is justification for them to seek help regarding a complex issue.

The other thing to consider is that physical trauma and psychological trauma are usually coupled together by a traumatic experience. Let’s imagine the scenario of a car crash. This is not a very pleasant experience due to the very nature of the physical injury that can be sustained, but there is also a psychological aspect to this; for example in car crashes, people often remember what has collided with them, for example, a car, or a lorry. They will consider any sounds of breaks screeching, glass smashing. They may note the date and time of the accident, or the place where the accident occurred; both of which, if this individual has to travel through the same locale, will cause further exposure to their trauma and exacerbate any anxiety they may have.

Some people may even have the misfortune of having a trauma on top of the trauma. What I mean by this is if a person has already experienced one car crash, and is then involved in another. The traumatic experiences intensify, and this can cause further distress and hardship.

When you feel alone, you may think to yourself that you are going crazy because you have noted that there has been a drastic change within your own persona or habits; this is the time to seek therapy. Therapy can help you to work through your trauma, to undergo a process which allows you to restore the confidence within yourself, lowering your anxiety and dealing with whichever trauma presents itself in a controlled and supportive fashion. What this will do is take something which appears to be difficult to overcome and break it down into small, bite-sized stages to allow you to see a progression of confidence that will allow you to begin again with skills and techniques that will help you manage psychological trauma.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Normanton, West Yorkshire, WF6 2DB
Written by Brian Turner, BA (Hons.) MNCS Snr Accred / Supervisor. (Prof. Dip PsyC)
Normanton, West Yorkshire, WF6 2DB

I am a psychotherapist that uses a diverse and wide spectrum of techniques to ensure that my clients feel empowered and confident, so they are able to achieve what they wish to achieve when presenting with a broad range of issues.

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