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What is Emotional Trauma? 6 Tips for Understanding.

Updated: Dec 2, 2020

By Dr. Bev

Emotional trauma is everywhere and so many of us are affected by it. When we lose someone we love or a stressful event breaks apart our sense of security, we can begin to view the environment and those around us as dangerous. Even if a certain event doesn’t cause us any physical harm, being in a state of fear can still cause us to become traumatized. And that’s not good for us because stress releases cortisol which can raise havoc in the body.

Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

So, let’s look at some important pieces to consider when confronted with emotional trauma of all kinds. First, let’s examine how it is frequently experienced and seen in our lives today. Again, it is everywhere.

1. Common Ways to experience emotional trauma:


Loss of health

Losing a job

Loss of financial stability



Death of a pet

Loss of a cherished dream

A loved one’s serious illness

Loss of a friendship

Loss of safety after a trauma

Selling the family home… and more

2. Characteristics:

Trauma causes a shock to our bodies, our minds, our souls…. There are cognitive, behavioral, physical and psychological reactions to emotional trauma. What it can look like:

Post-traumatic stress disorder

Isolation from friends and loved ones

Anger, irritability, reactiveness

Sense of guilt and shame

View of the world become cynical

Drug and alcohol abuse

Whether or not the trauma caused physical harm, circumstances are accompanied by deep emotional pain which can make you ill. Insomnia, nightmares, chronic fatigue, difficulty concentrating, panic attacks, edginess, agitation, muscle tension and a rapid heartbeat are all physical symptoms of emotional stress.

3. Results of emotional trauma:

Self-destructive behaviors

Uncontrollable reactions

Shame, guilt, hopelessness, despair

Loss of former belief systems

Compulsive behavioral problems

Substance use challenges

Sexual problems

Inability to maintain close relationships

Hostility and argumentativeness


Feelings of being threatened

Finding strength to heal from emotional trauma can be utterly exhausting and debilitating at times – however, it’s one of the most important things you can do for your well-being. The following quote from Matthew illustrates the necessity of digging deep to find the strength to put one foot in front of the other and keep on trying to heal.

Matthew 9:29: “If you have faith and do not doubt… it will be done.”

Karen Salmansohn: “Take all the time you need to heal emotionally. Heal at your own pace. Step by step. Day by day.”

4. Find the courage to heal

Making a commitment to yourself and the desire to feel better can be your best ally on the road to recovery. Don’t give in to the ego, which will try to tell you there’s something wrong with you – there’s nothing wrong with you! The reactions you experience because of trauma are only responses – they are not who you are!

Acts 27:22: “But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost….”

5. Accept support from loved ones

It is so important to stay connected to friends and family – do not give in to temptation to isolate for it will not help. It is said that it takes a village to raise a child – well, it also takes a village to help a person heal from trauma. Let others know you are hurting. Tell a friend of family member or even a ‘courageous church friend’ how you are feeling so that it doesn’t weigh you down and turn you inside out. If you don’t share your inner world with others, they will never know the extent of your difficulty. Speak up and speak out! But choose your time and place and person with care so you receive the much needed support.

6. Seek out professional assistance

Connecting with others in a group or in individual therapy will help you heal because comfort comes from feeling engaged and accepted by others. Connecting with a professional can help reduce your sense of isolation and provide you with a roadmap to recovery. The protocol of choice for reducing trauma is called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing or EMDR. It involves accessing both sides of the brain through eye movement as you hold a picture safely in your mind of a distressful event or loss. Recently, some theoreticians have written that what it takes to recover is to move the memory from where it is stored (usually in the left side of the brain) to the right side where you can access it with new-found resources. You can locate a nearby professional who is trained by contacting the International Association of EMDR. Treatments may also focus on education, stress management techniques or mindfulness awareness.

If you would like to have companions on your journey to a fuller expression of God in your life that includes healing from emotional trauma, join us on Zoom every Wednesday night at 6:30 for confidential, free sessions with others who are working to improve their lives. Email me at and I will send you necessary information to connect with us on Zoom. And remember, “If you have faith and do not doubt… it will be done” (Matthew 9:29). Next week’s blog continues with more ideas on emotional trauma.

Dr. Bev, Coach and Counselor

Acknowledgement is given with thanks for many of the ideas contained in this blog to the therapists at the Chopra Addiction and Wellness Center who work toward restoring their clients to wholeness.


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