Trauma & EMDR- Part Three

Francine Shapiro, the creator of EMDR (I’ll explain EMDR later in the series), defines trauma as “any event that has had a lasting negative effect… When you lose your peace of mind, or if you never had it, there can be serious physical and psychological consequences no matter what the cause” (Shapiro, 2004, p. xiii).

All sorts of experiences play an important role in our inner life. We call events that are perceived as life-threatening big “T” traumas – these include combat; crimes like rape, kidnapping, and assault; and natural disasters like earthquakes, tornadoes, fires, tsunamis, and floods.

But there’s another form of trauma. It’s what we refer to as small “t” traumas – those distressing negative events we experience in our daily lives, that would not necessarily be considered “life-threatening,” but make us feel unsafe, unloved, without control or hope. They can be humiliations, failures, or losses of any kind, and they leave us markedly different after the experience. Here are some examples:
  •  Conflict with colleagues, your employer, friends, or family
  • Being bullied or excluded
  • Accidents: a fall, being bitten by a dog, or an automobile accident
  • Life transition: promotion, demotion, being fired, moving, working from home, having or adopting
    children, launching children, retirement, changes in partner’s travel or work schedule
  • Experience of betrayal or rejection
  • Discovery of infidelity or porn use
  • Breakup or Divorce
  • Loved one battling an addiction
  • Physical injury, disease, medical diagnosis/treatment for self or a loved one, loss of mobility or
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Financial distress
  • Death of a dream

Most trauma specialists would suggest that we have all been personally impacted by trauma, whether by a big “T” trauma or by small “t” traumas. That may seem awfully dark. But, if we can accurately name our experiences, then maybe we’re that much closer to getting the proper help. When we are able to properly identify trauma; we can receive appropriate care and healing. We’ll talk more about that later in this


Written by: Mindy Pierce