Acute Trauma


Patterns of communication and unresolved conflict.

Acute trauma refers to the difficulties experienced following a singular, overwhelming incident. Most people experience some traumatic event in their lifetime. It is important to note that not everyone experiences trauma the same way, and the level of trauma two individuals might experience from the same incident is also subjective.  Trauma symptoms may not  immediately develop after a traumatic event. In some cases, it can take some people years to feel the impact on their minds and body! Some examples of traumatic events can include an accident, an act of violence, natural disaster, sudden or accidental passing of a loved one, physical or sexual assault among many other possibilities. Any trauma has the potential to impact our nervous system deeply, and make us susceptible to emotional and physiological concerns including, but not limited to:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Exaggerated startle response
  • Inability to regulate emotions
  • Fear
  • Vivid memories, flashbacks or nightmares
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Feelings of hopelessness

It should be noted that unresolved trauma may develop into other mental health issues that can be more chronic, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Anxiety, Depression or Substance Use.

These experiences can feel overwhelming and difficult to manage, especially by yourself. Moreover, given the stigma attached to mental health concerns, feelings of shame, feeling ‘broken’ or blaming oneself are common among people too.

How can counselling help?

There is no instant fix when it comes to recovering from trauma. Fortunately, there are an array of modalities that address trauma symptoms and shift us towards healing and equilibrium. Counselling or Psychotherapy is one such time-tested resource that has proven to help people recover safely through processing and integrating their experience. Within counselling, there is a range of therapies one can choose from, such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Somatic Therapies, Art Therapy, Biofeedback, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) simply to name a few.

Know that you do not have to struggle with trauma symptoms by yourself and that there are many resources available to you when you are ready to reach out.


American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2014). Trauma-informed care in behavioral health services.

Van der Kolk, B. A. (2014). The body keeps the score: brain, mind, and body in the healing of  trauma. New York: Viking

Narrative Therapy

Other Concerns

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