Trauma is an individual’s response to an unexpected and extremely stressful event or series of events that overwhelm the individual’s ability to understand and cope. The individual may feel the effects of the traumatic event straight away or many years later.


Trauma is common and can impact all areas of a person’s wellbeing. It can happen to anyone, however particular events may lead to trauma. The effects of trauma are individual, but can affect a person’s brain development, thoughts, feelings, behaviours, relationships and sense of self. Trauma can be caused by intentional or natural circumstances


Causesof Trauma

Trauma can be caused by intentional or natural circumstances

  • Physical Assault

  • Sexual Assault

  • Physical Abuse

  • Sexual Abuse

  • Psychological Abuse

  • Child Abuse or Neglect

  • Domestic Abuse

  • Loss of a loved one

  • Suicidal ideations & attempts

  • Sudden and unexpected loss (e.g. job, housing or relationship)

  •  Accident

  • Rape

  • Domestic Violence

  •  War Trauma (including experiencing combat, killing, fear of being killed, witnessing death etc.)

  • Torture

  • Forcible confinement

  • Destruction of culture or language

  • Living in poverty

  • Financial Stress

  • Being a victim of crime

  • Witnessing a natural disaster

  • Victimisation

  • Bullying

  • Seclusion

  • Restraint (physical or chemical)

  • Humiliation

  • Shaming


Trauma can affect a person physically, emotionally, cognitively & spiritually.

  • Physical Impacts: eating disturbances, sleep disturbances, pain, low energy, anxiety, crying or panic Attacks

  • Mental Impacts: depression, despair, hopelessness, anxiety, vulnerability, fear, a feeling of being out of control, irritability, anger and resentment, emotional numbness, guilt, shame, self-blame, self-hatred, feeling unsafe and difficult self-soothing

  • Cognitive Impacts: frightening thoughts, thoughts of being evil or bad, memory lapses, loss of time, overwhelming recollections of the trauma, difficulty making decisions, difficulty concentrating, being distracted easily  & thoughts of suicide

  • Spiritual Impacts: feeling damaged, questioning of one's purposes, losing faith, obsessively praying or attending service, feeling that a whole ethnic group or culture is bad or a damaged sense of safety and trust

People who experience trauma adopt coping strategies which enable them to survive and temporarily relieve their mental distress. Coping strategies can have negative physical, psychological, social and/or financial effects and other self-destructive behaviours.  

  • Suicide attempts

  • Eating disorders

  • Smoking

  • Self-injury

  • Sex

  • Violence

  • Problem gambling,

  • Compulsive/obsessive behaviours

  • Alcohol or other substance abuse

  • Abusive relationships

  • Isolation & 

  • Withdrawal from normal social routines.



Once a person has experienced a trauma, it is possible for other events to trigger or inadvertently lead to re-traumatisation. Triggers may be environmental, related to various times (i.e. anniversary), associated with a loss of control or critical feedback.

  • Impatience

  • Anger

  • Loss of emotional control

  • Non-respectful language & approaches

  • Authoritarianism

  • Use of force

  • Certain smells, sounds, words, tastes, feelings & situations

  • Being touched.

Trauma-Informed Care

Trauma-informed care is an approach by a service that acknowledges that many of its users may have experienced trauma. As a results, the service structures its services and practices to provide a safe environment that minimises the likelihood of exacerbating the effects of the trauma or of re-traumatising the person.

Trauma-informed care has been developed since the 1800s, however there has been increasing evidence since the 1960s. While trauma-informed care has been an explanation for mental distress in early psychoanalysis, it gained momentum in the 1960’s and 1970’s due to the women’s rights movement and the Vietnam Veterans movement. In recent times, trauma-informed care has been advocated for consumers, carers, homelessness services, substance-use services & brain research.

Principles of Trauma-Informed care

The principles that underlie trauma-informed care include:


  • Understanding trauma and its effects

  • Believing that recovery is possible

  • Believing that healing occurs in healthy and supportive relationships

  • Supporting control, choice and autonomy

  • Focusing on strengths

  • Demonstrating cultural competence

  • Sharing power

  • Integrating holistic care

  • Promoting safety (i.e. creating a safe environment to minimise risk and maximise worker, consumer and organisational safety, security and comfort).

  • Being free force, coercion, threats, punishment and harm

  • Being able to express feelings without fear

  • Maximise choice and explore limits

  • Define self and experiences without judgement

  • Focus the service on the needs of people who experienced trauma

Trauma-specialised services are services that exist specifically to offer trauma-recovery services. Trauma specialist services focus on trauma recovery

  • Homelessness Services

  • Sexual Assault Services

  • Domestic Violence Shelters

  • Women's Cottages

  • Victims of Crime

  • Torture Rehabilitation Services

  • Trauma & Injury Management Services

Trauma-Specialised Services

TRAUma-Informed Services

Trauma-informed Services are offered by a community-service  organisations that provide services to help people deal with trauma. They provide a strengths-based framework that is responsive to the impact of trauma, emphasising physical, psychological, and emotional safety for both service providers and survivors.

  • Housing,

  • Youth Services

  • Mental health

  • Mentoring

  • Employment &

  • Abuse of Alcohol & Other Drugs.


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