The Impact of Trauma

One of the truths that guides my work with clients is that people make sense in context—the belief that if we took the time to know where someone is coming from, and see their thoughts, emotions and actions in light of their experiences and current circumstances, it will make sense.

Trauma is chaotic, confusing, and overwhelming for survivors, and the experience can feel similarly confusing for their support system.

Understanding the costs and consequences of trauma and the coping mechanisms often chosen by survivors can aid in beginning the process of healing. Trauma is pervasive, and touches every area of a person’s life. It is the nature of trauma to be overwhelming and all encompassing, with layers of impact, and consequences where you may not think to find them. There is overt harm, as in instances of abuse, and a lack of need fulfillment, as in instances of neglect. There are interpersonal and attachment wounds, as trauma often involves betrayal, loss, and abandonment.

Trauma disrupts how we see ourselves and others, changing our perspective of the world. 

Judith Herman in her book Trauma and Recovery states, “Traumatic events call into question basic human relationships. They breach the attachments of family, friendship, love, and community. They shatter the construction of the self that is formed and sustained in relation to others.” 

In instances where one should expect safety and trust, trauma teaches people to expect harm. Trauma stays in the body and the mind, with a heightened arousal system, and difficulty managing feelings and behavior. Difficulty forming healthy relationships, developmental challenges, loss of agency and control, and a fragmented sense of self are also consequences of trauma.

While trauma has lasting effects and disrupts the lives of the people it touches, another truth about trauma is that there is hope.

Recovery is possible. What happened to you does not have to define you—There is life beyond trauma. If you, or someone you know has experienced trauma, we would be honored to walk with you in your journey to healing. 

Written by: Courtney Hintermeyer