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  • connorthomashealth

What trauma really is and how it effects us. Best ways to treat and work through it.

Trauma is an epidemic!

  • Trauma is something that affects up to 70.4% of the world (2).

  • Approximately 30.5% of people have been exposed to 4 or more traumas (3).

  • 36.6 of people with PTSD have severe impairment as a result of their trauma

  • Those that experience trauma are more likely to experience or develop other mental disorders such as:

    • Depression

    • Anxiety Disorders

    • Adjustment Disorders

    • Reactive Attachment Disorders

    • Disinhibited Social Anxiety Disorder

    • Acute Stress Disorder

    • Eating Disorders

    • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

    • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

    • Borderline Personality Disorder

    • Substance Abuse Problems

    • Amongst others (4,5,6)

Trauma is more common than most people may realize and seeing some of these statistics should be eye-opening to most. However, when most people think of trauma they think of events such as a car crash, sexual assault, seeing combat in a war, or witnessing a death. Yes, those things may be considered trauma, however; trauma can also be any sort of negative event that created some sort of emotional reaction and still has control over us or shapes us in a negative way. Events such as a breakup, getting bullied, a negative interaction with a parent or caregiver, or any other event that created a core negative belief can be considered trauma. With that in mind, I believe more people have experienced trauma than they may have realized. Reasons for this include:

  1. Individuals may not have realized that they experienced trauma because it is not as severe as what they would have considered trauma.

  2. Not all trauma gets reported. Some that may have experienced trauma do not want to report or admit it because of the negative feelings it may produce talk about such as: guilt, shame, anxiety, or fear. Counseling or other mental health services, unfortunately, have a negative stigma to some and therefore those that need help may not reach out.

Trauma and its effects can lead to many different mental health and personal problems. Those that experience trauma can have symptoms including problems sleeping, nightmares, lack of energy, trouble focusing, flashbacks, problems forming romantic or personal relationships, constantly being on alert or unable to relax, having thoughts of hurting self, a variety of negative emotions such: as guilt, anger, shame, anxiety, or sadness (7).

In my experience as a mental health counselor, I have seen many clients suffer from these symptoms as well as many others and do not realize that there is an underlying cause that may point back to a trauma they experienced (or repeatedly experienced) earlier in life. This is turn developed into some sort of core negative belief that still affects how they view themselves or the work around them. These types of core negative beliefs affect not only themselves but also how they interact with others, their productivity at work, as well as their romantic relationships.

When we experience a trauma it affects the brain in the body in a negative way and part of the brain gets stuck in that trauma. As a result, we can often develop negative core beliefs about ourselves such as “I’m not good enough“, “I am helpless“, or I should’ve done something different“ when we have these “memories we also feel them in other areas such as relationships with friends or family, significant others, or work relationships.

Trauma is almost impossible to work through on your own which is why working with a trained professional that specializes in trauma is very important. Not doing so will make it hard to live a healthy and meaningful life and continue to work through other things on your own.

A very helpful approach is EMDR therapy which can be a very effective way to work through traumatic memories and negative core beliefs that one has about themselves. (10,11). When I have family or friends ask about a therapist or what they should look for I always recommend EMDR therapy and specifically I recommend EMDR intensive. Intensives are a type of EMDR therapy that takes place in longer sessions for multiple days. Instead of a traditional 50-minute session, they may be three hours or longer. The benefit of this includes being able to work through things in a more effective way in a shorter amount of time. In my experience, I have been able to take clients to a much better place in just a few days when in the past I have had to work with clients for many years to work through very similar traumas. The nature of intensives allows you to get deeper work done in a short amount of time because you do not have as many time restraints (12,13,14).

Trauma is not always easy to work through however, EMDR is the most gentle and effective way of doing so. Everyone makes progress at different rates as well, however, I truly do believe that EMDR is the best route to take for most people. If you believe you have negative core beliefs as a result of trauma there is no time like now to start working through some of those things by working with a therapist that is trained and specializes in this area.


  1. Kessler RC, Aguilar-Gaxiola S, Alonso J, Benjet C, Bromet EJ, Cardoso G, Degenhardt L, de Girolamo G, Dinolova RV, Ferry F, Florescu S, Gureje O, Haro JM, Huang Y, Karam EG, Kawakami N, Lee S, Lepine JP, Levinson D, Navarro-Mateu F, Pennell BE, Piazza M, Posada-Villa J, Scott KM, Stein DJ, Ten Have M, Torres Y, Viana MC, Petukhova MV, Sampson NA, Zaslavsky AM, Koenen KC. Trauma and PTSD in the WHO World Mental Health Surveys. Eur J Psychotraumatol. 2017 Oct 27;8(sup5):1353383. doi: 10.1080/20008198.2017.1353383.

  2. Benjet C, Bromet E, Karam EG, Kessler RC, McLaughlin KA, Ruscio AM, Shahly V, Stein DJ, Petukhova M, Hill E, Alonso J, Atwoli L, Bunting B, Bruffaerts R, Caldas-de-Almeida JM, de Girolamo G, Florescu S, Gureje O, Huang Y, Lepine JP, Kawakami N, Kovess-Masfety V, Medina-Mora ME, Navarro-Mateu F, Piazza M, Posada-Villa J, Scott KM, Shalev A, Slade T, ten Have M, Torres Y, Viana MC, Zarkov Z, Koenen KC. The epidemiology of traumatic event exposure worldwide: results from the World Mental Health Survey Consortium. Psychol Med. 2016 Jan;46(2):327-43. doi: 10.1017/S0033291715001981.

  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved October 11, 2022, from

  4. McKay MT, Cannon M, Chambers D, Conroy RM, Coughlan H, Dodd P, Healy C, O'Donnell L, Clarke MC. Childhood trauma and adult mental disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal cohort studies. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2021 Mar;143(3):189-205. doi: 10.1111/acps.13268.

  5. Abuse, trauma, and mental health. Abuse, trauma, and mental health | Office on Women's Health. (n.d.). Retrieved October 11, 2022, from

  6. Trauma-related disorders: Knowledge center. Sheppard Pratt. (n.d.). Retrieved October 12, 2022, from

  7. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Major depression. National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved October 12, 2022, from

  8. Lerner D, Henke RM. What does research tell us about depression, job performance, and work productivity? J Occup Environ Med. 2008 Apr;50(4):401-10. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31816bae50.

  9. Negele A, Kaufhold J, Kallenbach L, Leuzinger-Bohleber M. Childhood Trauma and Its Relation to Chronic Depression in Adulthood. Depress Res Treat. 2015;2015:650804. doi: 10.1155/2015/650804. Epub 2015 Nov 29. PMID: 26693349; PMCID: PMC4677006.

  10. Wilson G, Farrell D, Barron I, Hutchins J, Whybrow D, Kiernan MD. The Use of Eye-Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy in Treating Post-traumatic Stress Disorder-A Systematic Narrative Review. Front Psychol. 2018 Jun 6;9:923. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00923. PMID: 29928250; PMCID: PMC5997931.

  11. Valiente-Gómez A, Moreno-Alcázar A, Treen D, Cedrón C, Colom F, Pérez V, Amann BL. EMDR beyond PTSD: A Systematic Literature Review. Front Psychol. 2017 Sep 26;8:1668. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01668. PMID: 29018388; PMCID: PMC5623122.

  12. Van Woudenberg C, Voorendonk EM, Bongaerts H, Zoet HA, Verhagen M, Lee CW, van Minnen A, De Jongh A. Effectiveness of an intensive treatment programme combining prolonged exposure and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing for severe post-traumatic stress disorder. Eur J Psychotraumatol. 2018 Jul 10;9(1):1487225. doi: 10.1080/20008198.2018.1487225. PMID: 30013726; PMCID: PMC6041781.

  13. Zepeda Méndez M, Nijdam MJ, Ter Heide FJJ, van der Aa N, Olff M. A five-day inpatient EMDR treatment programme for PTSD: pilot study. Eur J Psychotraumatol. 2018 Feb 5;9(1):1425575. doi: 10.1080/20008198.2018.1425575. PMID: 29441152; PMCID: PMC5804727.

  14. Greenwald, R. (2022, September 6). The economic value of intensive trauma therapy. Trauma Institute & Child Trauma Institute. Retrieved November 8, 2022, from

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