Psychological trauma can occur in both acute forms, such as challenging life events, sexual assault, an auto accident, a health crisis, addiction relapse, a death or loss of a significant other which can sometimes lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Cumulative traumatic stress associated with intergenerational traumatic legacies, chronic childhood abuse or bullying, ongoing discrimination, stressful relationships, legal or economic hardship, chronic illness or other life events that gradually pile up can lead to complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD).
Both PTSD and C-PTSD can present in increased withdrawal from others, relationship distress, edginess, sleep disturbance, anxiety, depressed mood, intrusive memories, flashbacks, and increased risk of addictive behaviors.
Techniques such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) in addition to MBCT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy) and psychodynamic psychotherapy can help with gradually coming to terms with both acute and chronic forms of psychological trauma and furthermore lead to the freeing up of energy for sustained recovery and personal growth. Neurotherapy may also be helpful as a way of fostering self-regulation, relieving symptoms of anxiety and stress.
Normally the first stage of trauma recovery includes regaining a sense of health, strength, and stability. The second stage of recovery includes working through some of the residual underlying patterns of thought, feeling, or bodily experiences, sometimes rooted in childhood, that often take longer to resolve.
A third stage of recovery leads to the integration of traumatic experience and post-traumatic growth, or the emergence of positive life changes, a higher level of functioning, increased resilience, and a renewed or clarified sense of personal and even spiritual purpose.