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trauma counselling

What Are the 3 Main Types of Trauma?

Most people will experience a traumatic event in their life at one time or another. Trauma has no boundaries and can affect anyone regardless of age, race, or gender and because not all traumatic experiences are the same, there are different treatment strategies that can be used to treat different individuals. Psylegal is the leading place for trauma counselling Melbourne locals know and trust. Here’s our guide to the main types of trauma – Acute, Chronic and Complex.

What is Acute Trauma?

Often associated with a single event that happens in an individual’s life, acute trauma could come in the form of a car accident, natural disaster, a single event of abuse or assault, theft, witnessing a violent event or an experience that threatens an individual’s physical or emotional safety. These such incidents and experiences can have a lasting negative impact on one’s psyche if left untreated, and impact the way they live their life. Acute trauma is also sometimes connected with short-term post-traumatic stress disorder.

Symptoms of acute trauma may include:

  • Severe panic or extreme anxiety
  • Confusion and/or irritation
  • Dissociation or feelings of being disconnected from one’s self and their surroundings
  • Insomnia
  • Suspiciousness or acting in strange ways
  • Lack of self-care and poor grooming
  • Loss of focus or production at work or school

There are several treatment strategies that can help with acute trauma, including:

  • Immediate emotional support
  • Removal from the scene of the trauma
  • Short-term use of medication
  • Medicinal or natural strategies to combat insomnia
  • Short-term trauma counselling to return the feeling of being safe

Chronic Trauma Explained

Chronic trauma results from exposure to multiple, chronic and/or prolonged overwhelming traumatic events over an extended period of time. Examples may include undergoing treatment for illness, domestic violence, childhood abuse, sexual abuse and exposure to war or combat situations. Chronic trauma can even be made up from several instances of acute traumas, happening one after the other. As with acute trauma, leaving chronic trauma unresolved can have a long-term negative impact on the quality of one’s life.

Common symptoms of chronic trauma

Unlike in the cases of acute trauma, the symptoms of chronic trauma may not come to the surface for an extended period of time — in some cases, even years after the event. Some longer-term reactions to trauma can include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, anxiety, rage and even physical symptoms like fatigue, headaches or nausea.

Survivors of this kind of trauma will likely require more treatment as the pain lasts much longer. Treatment for chronic trauma is best handled by a psychologist highly qualified and experienced in trauma counselling.

What is Complex Trauma?

Complex trauma results from exposure to varied and multiple traumatic events or experiences, often within the context of an interpersonal relationship. Complex trauma:

  • is usually interpersonal (occurs between people)
  • involves a feeling of being ‘trapped’
  • is often planned, extreme, ongoing and/or repeated
  • often has more severe and persistent impacts
  • involves challenges with shame, trust and self-esteem
  • may involve coping strategies such as alcohol and drug use, self-harm, over- or under-eating
  • affects emotional and physical health, overall wellbeing, relationships and daily functioning

When might a complex trauma occur?

Complex trauma commonly occurs with repeated trauma against a child and this an be especially damaging. Many situations can cause complex trauma in childhood including all forms of child abuse, neglect, adverse childhood experiences, community violence, domestic and family violence, civil unrest, war trauma or genocide, cultural dislocation, sexual exploitation and trafficking.

Get Help Dealing with Trauma

Fortunately, anyone who suffers from any kind of trauma can recover with the right treatment. At Psylegal, we are here to help. We are proud to offer the highest quality trauma counselling and support available to help improve your quality of life. If you are experiencing any symptoms of acute, chronic or complex trauma give us a call today on 1300 79 22 09 to speak with one of our highly trained trauma Psychologists. Seeking the right help is the first step to recovery, so reach out today.

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