I recently appeared on a live-stream chat as a guest, talking about trauma and how it affects the mindset and physical body of the sufferer. You can find the live-chat here.
I explained the difference between small t and cap T trauma. Here’s a recap…
Small t trauma
Small ‘t’ traumas are situations or events that we feel are beyond our capacity to cope with. These events cause a disturbance within our normal emotional functioning.
While these distressing events are not often life threatening, they do leave the individual feeling distressed and helplessness. Some examples might be:
- Cheating Spouse
- Marriage or Relationship Breakdown
- Sudden relocation or change in situation
- Legal troubles
- Financial worries
Small ‘t’s are often overlooked by the sufferer because we generally tend to rationalise difficulties that are not life-threatening. Any over-reaction can feel too ‘dramatic’ and so we play the situation down and ‘avoid’ dwelling on the subject.
Sometimes the individual doesn’t recognize how disturbed they’ve been by the event and so they don’t even mention the event to a therapist at first. A competent therapist should be able to discover the event and realise its importance within the journey of healing.
One small ‘t’ trauma might not lead to major distress, but multiple small ‘t’s, frequently lead to trouble with emotions. Most of my own clients have presented with an accumulation of small ‘t’s. These traumas may have occurred either over a lifetime or squished into the recent past.
Cap T traumas
A cap-T trauma is a significant event that leaves you feeling absolutely powerless within your environment. Perhaps a natural disaster, a terrorist attack, sexual assault, combat or even a vehicle accident.
Helplessness is a major factor of cap ‘T’ traumas. Large ‘T’ traumas are easily identified by the experiencer.
The cap-T individual tends to decisively engage in actions of avoidance. They may deliberately avoid crowded places, avoid travel, avoid contact with authorities related to, or investigating, the trauma.
They attempt to minimize reminders of the traumatic event. One large ‘T’ trauma is usually enough to interfere with an individual’s daily functioning, and this interference is intensified the longer avoidance endures.
What to do next
Awareness is key! If you’ve suffered multiple small ‘t’s or even one cap ‘T’ and are aware of any impact on your daily functioning, there is hope. A variety of treatments are available.
Treatments from professional therapists work to decrease trauma symptoms and increase an individual’s quality of life. Treatments may differ, but should include strategies such as mental/physical relaxation, measured recalling and reframing of the trauma memory and creating a toolbox of strategies when faced with old triggering thoughts and memories.
Speak about your traumas to others, share your experience and go seek help from a professional. Often nowadays (definitely with me) therapists will offer FREE consultations and may even have a range of free or very affordable provisions to help you.