A trauma is something that affects a person deeply, often to their core. Many times people are unaware to the degree that a trauma will impact their life and relationships. Depending on what the circumstance(s) was, as well as a person's level of resilience, a trauma will affect a person differently. There is no way to know until it happens...
Typically traumas will cause a person to react in one of three ways: fight, flight or freeze. Each of these reactions are defense mechanisms that are hard-wired into our brains to protect us. The reason something feels like a trauma is because the event exceeds a person's overall ability to manage and understand the experience. Essentially there are no "file drawers" in the brain available to slot the event, unlike the existing drawers used to house ordinary experiences. The circumstance is unable to fit into a person's "coherent narrative" of themself or of their life. Consquently, because there is no place to frame and give context for the event, the memory often becomes fragmented in the mind, splitting into many painful shards that can become easily triggered by the slightest smell, sight, sound and so forth.
When a trauma has occurred in the past and the reaction to the event is still extremely strong, it may be time to find help with a professional who specializes in trauma. A key marker of unprocessed trauma is that the time factor no longer applies, and something that happened many years ago, when triggered, will elicit the same intensity of emotion as when it first occurred. That's a signal that the trauma is stuck inside the right hemisphere of the brain, where there is lots of emotional reactivity and needs to be processed and moved into the left hemisphere of the brain, where there is logic and reason for understanding the event.
I utilize various specialized techniques for treating trauma, including EMDR and various techniques of Energy Psychology (such as tapping), to help people overcome these painful and devestating events so that they can find more peace and harmony in their lives. The goal is to have people integrate the experience into their life story so that they no longer experience shame and paralysis. Often the techniques I use for treating trauma will help the brain correct cognitive distortions that resulted from the original trauma; once the trauma becomes processed, a person begins to see the event through a different lens, without the emotional pain that once accompainied it.
I consider working with someone to process traumas as sacred work...it is important that people with trauma know that there is hope and healing available in order to feel whole again!