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What is Trauma?

About Trauma

What is Trauma ?

Most people associate trauma with life threatening events. However, trauma is complex and can include many scenarios and contributing factors. The TCA view of trauma has been informed by our experience with clients over the past 30 years of service delivery.

Trauma can have a profound impact on psychological wellbeing and everyday functioning. Thoughts can become consumed by the incident, making concentration on work near impossible, decision-making unclear and coping abilities frail. Reactions can range from mild to severe and can persist for weeks, months, or years following the initial traumatic event.

We appropriately define trauma as a

“psychological wound that has occurred due to a person’s perception of a stressful event”

(Peter Horton CEO, 2013).

  • What is a Trauma or Critical Incident Situation?

    A critical incident is any event which contains any of the following elements:

    • Is unexpected or unplanned
    • Is different from predictable day-to-day events
    • Results in a loss of control for either an individual or a business
    • Involves physical/emotional loss or a threat to life
    • Exerts undue strain on the mental coping abilities of persons involved
  • Common Reactions to a Critical Incident

    Responses to critical incidents will vary from person to person, but common responses include:

    • Severe anxiety, depression or stress
    • Physical symptoms, which can include shock, palpitations, trembling, sweaty palms, rapid breathing, and nausea
    • Psychological symptoms can include aggression, confusion, numbness, excitement, and panic
  • After the Incident

    In the period following the incident it is common to observe the following:

    • Sleep disturbances
    • Nervousness and anxiety
    • Headache, nausea etc.
    • Poor concentration
    • Flashbacks and recurrent thoughts
    • Mood swings, guilt
    • Negativity
  • What Should I Do?

    Following a traumatic incident, those effected can significantly benefit from trauma counselling and interventions. Trauma counselling can help minimize psychological impact by reducing traumatic stress and reducing the likelihood of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

    Other ways oh helping reduce trauma symptoms include:

    • Avoiding stimulants, especially caffeine and nicotine
    • Avoiding drugs and alcohol, as these have the effect of depressing feelings and can lead to dependency
    • Maintaining a normal routine (i.e. returning to work as soon as possible)
    • Maintaining good nutrition and adequate rest
    • Engaging with friends and support groups
    • Taking your time to make informed decisions
  • What is a Trauma or Critical Incident Situation?

    A critical incident is any event which contains any of the following elements:

    • Is unexpected or unplanned
    • Is different from predictable day-to-day events
    • Results in a loss of control for either an individual or a business
    • Involves physical/emotional loss or a threat to life
    • Exerts undue strain on the mental coping abilities of persons involved

To find out more about how the Trauma Centre of Australia can help your organisation recover from a traumatic event, please contact us on
(03) 9205 9488
or email us at reception@traumacentre.com.au