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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 trauma is a cumulative emotional and psychological wounding over the lifespan and across generations emanating from massive group trauma. Examples of historical trauma include genocide, colonialism (i.e., residential schools), slavery and war.
  • Intergenerational trauma describes the psychological or emotional effects that can be experienced by people who live with people who have experienced trauma. Coping and adaptation patterns developed in response to trauma can be passed from one generation to the next.