Trauma and Abuse

What is psychological trauma?

Trauma is a strong emotional response to a distressing event or circumstance. Trauma can overwhelm a person’s ability to cope and cause feelings of helplessness, fear, and/or horror. Traumatic events can include domestic violence, abuse, community violence, motor vehicle accidents, war experiences, terrorist acts, natural disasters, and human-made disasters.

When faced with trauma, most children and adolescents are resilient and are able to return to their prior levels of functioning after a certain period of time and resume a normal developmental course. However, some children who experience trauma develop severe acute or continuous symptoms that interfere with their daily functioning and warrant clinical intervention.

What is child abuse?

Child abuse is any action or failure to act which results in a child being emotionally or physically harmed, exploited, or even killed. Furthermore, child abuse is also any act or failure to act which causes a child to be at risk for severe harm. Child abuse can be physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, or neglectful. Child abuse can result in both physical and emotional developmental delays, and its effects can last into adulthood.

How can a mental health professional help?

Mental health professionals can help facilitate the recovery of children and adolescents who have experienced traumatic events. Mental health professionals can help to promote the use of adaptive coping strategies and reduce stress by guiding individuals through their challenges. Furthermore, mental health professionals develop and help provide appropriate interventions and treatments based on each child’s need.