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Prior to our current social context, which has included our being impacted by a pandemic, political turmoil, and social injustices to name a few recent collective experiences, traumatic events have been far from rare or uncommon. For centuries people have experienced significant hardships such as war, violence, systematic and racial oppression, health disparities, and natural disasters. Such hardships often result in psychological and physiological distress.
Figure 1: 60% of men and 50% of women have experienced at least one traumatic event.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) discovered in 2016 that roughly 70% of adults in the United States have experienced a traumatic event at least once in their lives— that is roughly 223.4 million Americans. SAMSHA breaks down this further: about 6 of every 10 men and 5 of every 10 women experience at least one traumatic event in their lives.
However, it should be noted that statistics on trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for specific minoritized groups (i.e., Black Americans and Hispanic Americans) are at least three times higher. Nevertheless, such statistics speak to the expansive and widespread nature of trauma and PTSD.
What many individuals fail to realize is trauma and PTSD may result from a variety of experiences, such as:
• grief/the sudden loss of a loved one
• familial dynamics
• poor generational patterns
• community violence/crime
• a car accident
All of these experiences classify as traumatic. Even learning about events that have happened to another person can be classified as a secondary trauma. For some, such life experiences do not impact them physically, mentally, or emotionally. However, for others such experiences can often impact them mentally, emotionally, and sometimes even physically. This demonstrates the complex and subjective nature of traumatizing events, which requires a compassionate and empathetic response even when it may be difficult to understand why one person was traumatized when another was not. So how does one continue to hope despite the suffering? How is healing possible when it seems like trauma is always present? What are our options when we are tired of just surviving and desperately want to thrive?
No matter the life experiences people have, there are several types of trauma-informed therapies and counseling techniques that can be used to address traumatic life experiences and start the healing process. In some cases, these therapies are adjusted to better accommodate for when a client is a child or an adult. Consider reaching out to the Trauma-Informed Counseling Center, which serves Lexington, Richmond, Frankfort and surrounding areas if you’d like more information about beginning therapy to process the traumatic experiences you have had and work towards thriving again in life.