For many people, trauma is understood as a single event. When we experience a single event trauma, such as sexual assault, this is by itself considered acute trauma. Meaning, this is a very specific experience that will likely be a therapeutic focus. I work with this type of trauma, however, the majority of my focus is on what is called chronic or complex trauma.

(1) repetitive, prolonged, or cumulative (2 ) most often interpersonal, involving direct harm, exploitation, and maltreatment including neglect/abandonment/antipathy by primary caregivers or other ostensibly responsible adults, and (3) often occur at developmentally vulnerable times in the victim's life, especially in early childhood or adolescence, but can also occur later in life and in conditions of vulnerability associated with disability/ disempowerment/dependency/age /infirmity, and so on. (shared from article)

When we grow up or are exposed to stressful environments, we tend to develop patterns of behavior that promote a high-stress flow of life. We have a hard time slowing down, feeling safe and relaxed, and developing stable relationships. Learning to gain insight into ourselves and to self-regulate become challenging and often manifest as anxiety or mood disturbance. My approach >>

examples of chronic trauma

  • not having basic survival needs met (food, housing, etc.)

  • witnessing ongoing violence in your home, community

  • ongoing physical or emotional abuse/neglect

  • growing up with a caregiver(s) who struggled with addiction and/or mental illness.

  • inconsistent, unpredictable caregiver(s)

  • medical injury, illness

    *complex trauma is a cumulation of different types of traumatic events over time.


symptoms of chronic trauma

  • struggle with attachment to others and anxiety surrounding relationships.

  • impulse control, anger, aggression, emotional outbursts

  • difficulty with attention, cognitive processing, feelings of overwhelm.

  • low self-esteem, shame, struggles surrounding worthiness

  • heightened anxiety, feeling “on-guard” or threatened when it’s not appropriate.

  • difficulty identifying or expressing emotional states.

  • emotional rigidity