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Types of Trauma

  • Acute trauma: Results from exposure to a single overwhelming event/experiences (car accident, natural disaster, single event of abuse or assault, sudden loss or witnessing violence).
  • Repetitive trauma: Results from exposure to multiple, chronic and/or prolonged overwhelming traumatic events (i.e., receiving regular treatment for an illness).
  • Complex trauma: Results from multiple, chronic and prolonged overwhelming traumatic events/experiences which are compromising and most often within the context of an interpersonal relationship (i.e., family violence).
  • Developmental trauma: Results from early onset exposure to ongoing or repetitive trauma (as infant, children or youth) includes neglect, abandonment, physical abuse or assault, sexual abuse or assault, emotional abuse witnessing violence or death, and/or coercion or betrayal. This often occurs within the child’s care giving system and interferes with healthy attachment and development.
  • Vicarious trauma: Creates a change in the service provider resulting from empathetic engagement with a client’s/patient’s traumatic background. It occurs when an individual who was not an immediate witness to the trauma absorbs and integrates disturbing aspects of the traumatic experience into his or her own functioning.
  • Historical and/or Intergenerational trauma: Emotional and psychological trauma that can affect cultural groups, communities and/or generations. Examples of this type of trauma include racism, colonization, loss of culture, forcible removal from family/community, slavery, genocide and war. Coping and adaptation patterns developed in response to trauma can be passed through generations.