The Three E’s of Trauma

Katie LairdPsychotherapy

Trauma is “challenging emotional consequences that living through a distressing event can have for an individual”. – The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
Dr. Bruce Perry, a leading researcher, clinician and teacher in children’s mental health and neuroscience, explains trauma according to the three E’s: 

  1. Event: the traumatic event itself. Large ‘T’ trauma is a significant and extraordinary event such as a fire, natural disaster, sexual assault. Little ‘T’ trauma are events that exceed our ability to cope and interfere with emotional functioning, like interpersonal conflict, infidelity, legal trouble and divorce
  2. Experience: An individual’s experience of the event determines whether it is traumatic. Two people could experience the same event, and one may interpret the event as traumatic and the other might not. For example, one person might develop PTSD from a car accident and the other does not have long term emotional effects. Experience of trauma is influenced by a variety of factors, such as past experiences, level of distress tolerance, beliefs and expectations, support, etc.
  3. Effects: The long-term effects of the trauma in the way that the individual thinks, feels, and behaves. Acute responses to trauma that are most recognized are fight, flight, freeze or fawn. Long term effects of trauma could include anxiety, depression, emotional dysregulation, feeling numb or detached from the trauma, denial, shame, sleep problems and insomnia, shame, helplessness, fear, development of PTSD, etc.

“Most people will experience a trauma at some point in their lives and as a result, some will experience debilitating symptoms that interfere with daily life. The good news is that psychological interventions are effective in preventing many long-term effects.” ~ American Psychological Association

If you are struggling to deal with a traumatic event in your life, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the clinicians at Serenity Now Wellness Centre. Book online today.

Please also check out these sources and links online:

https://www.camh.ca/en/health-info/mental-illness-and-addiction-index/trauma#:~:text=Trauma%20is%20the%20lasting%20emotional,regulate%20emotions%20and%20navigate%20relationships

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/trauma-and-hope/201703/different-types-trauma-small-t-versus-large-t

https://www.northpointrecovery.com/blog/long-term-effects-trauma-deal/

https://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Understanding-Trauma-Informed-Care-in-the-Context-of-an-Adoption-Program-.pdf