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Interpersonal Trauma

A traumatic experience is one that overwhelms our capacity to cope and function in our everyday lives. It may come from repeated experiences such as childhood abuse, neglect, intimate partner violence or sexual abuse. It is important to note, however, that it is not the event itself that creates the trauma; rather, it is how wounded we are by the event. Trauma comes from the Greek word meaning “wound”.


Interpersonal traumas involve events in which we have been hurt by other people. This may include strangers, acquaintances, friends or loved ones. Pain caused by others (especially if it is repeated over a period of time) can be significantly harder to overcome. Many factors influence how an individual responds to a situation, but the following are some commonly reported trauma responses:

  • Cognitive (e.g., memory problems, difficulty concentrating, inability to express yourself, self-blame etc.)

  • Emotional (e.g., anger, sadness, anxiety, shame, numbness, feeling overwhelmed etc.)

  • Physical (e.g., fatigue, nausea, muscle tremors, hyperarousal etc.)

  • Behavioural (e.g., avoidant behaviours, high-risk behaviours, sleep and appetite disturbances, difficulties in relationships etc.)

  • Existential/Spiritual (e.g., despair about humanity, questioning safety, hopelessness, changes in your relationship to faith etc.)*

*Excerpted from

Therapeutic goals we could work towards in this area:​

  • Assessing impact of traumatic experinces

  • Restoring safety and establishing a safe, secure therapeutic relationship

  • Reversing emotional and behavioural trauma responses 

  • Reduce guilt, shame, self-disgust and misplaced responsibility with the traumatic events

  • Creating safe spaces for expressing all emotions

  • Identifying losses and facilitate mourning

  • Increaing tolerance for uncertainty

Please note - I am not equipped to work with clients who are currently struggling with domestic abuse, or with minors who have experienced child sexual abuse.

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