We can become emotionally harmed for a long time following experiences which are painful, distressing or shocking. These experiences may be “one off” events or may occur over a period of time.
A trauma following a single event can impact on a limited part of our life, e.g. a driving phobia following a car accident. It can also lead to more severe problems, such as experiencing distressing flashbacks. Flashbacks are usually present when a person has post traumatic stress disorder. Trauma which has occurred over a period of time can also lead to flashbacks and post traumatic stress disorder. Usually with a trauma which has taken place over a longer period of time the effect is spread more generally, often resulting in a lack of trust and personal safety. This is because in the Western world these traumas tend to occur in the context of a relationship. However, there are also many people in Britain who have experienced trauma through war and torture.
Whatever the nature of the trauma, and whether or not a person has post traumatic stress disorder, it can leave us emotionally scarred in many different ways, and have a profound effect on our day to day functioning. The type of therapy best suited to the effects of a trauma you may have experienced will depend on the nature of the trauma.