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What is Trauma?

Individual trauma results from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.

  • Events and circumstances may include the actual or extreme threat of physical or psychological harm (natural disasters, violence, etc.), or severe life-threatening neglect for a child that imperils healthy development.
  • An individual’s experience of these events or circumstances helps to determine whether it is a traumatic event. A particular event may be experienced as traumatic for one individual and not for another.
  • The long-lasting adverse effects of the event are a critical component of trauma. These adverse effects may occur immediately or may have a delayed onset. The duration of the effects can be short to long term. In some situations, the individual may not recognize the connection between the traumatic events and the effects.

        –Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

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Updated September 7, 2021 4:09pm