Dumfries & Galloway Health & Social Care

Understanding Trauma for Professionals

What is Trauma

"Trauma is a word that describes the way we can feel when we go through difficult times, sometimes these are called ‘negative life experiences".

They can be one big event or can be something that happens repeatedly or over a long time which has a negative impact on you.

There are lots of challenging and difficult things that can happen in our lives but here are some examples of things that might lead to a person experiencing trauma:

When things like this happen, everyone deals with it differently. Some people might feel a bit anxious afterwards but it might not last long.

Unfortunately, some people continue to experience difficult thoughts and feelings connected to this event for a long time afterwards.

This is what we call ‘trauma’. It is important to remember that not everyone who goes through something difficult will experience trauma because of it, but for some people this can have a big impact on their life and can have these feelings for a longer time.

Children who have experienced multiple negative events such as abuse, neglect or domestic violence may experience what is know as ‘Developmental Trauma’. Developmental trauma usually, but not always occurs in the developing life of a child. People who have experienced developmental trauma may experience difficulties with relationships, their view of themselves and of others.

When might a referral to CAMHS be appropriate?

It might be appropriate to consider CAMHS involvement when a young person is concerned about their symptoms and asks for support. With trauma, it is important not to assume that talking about the traumatic event will make a young person feel better as they may not have the coping strategies to manage this yet. 

It may be that a school nurse or a youth information worker in school could suggest some low level strategies to manage difficult emotions however a referral to CAMHS might be worth considering if these avenues have been explored or if the young person has asked for more intensive support regarding trauma/PTSD.

What should I tell the family?

You can direct the family to this website, for more information. CAMHS is a service who works with young people 0-18 with a range of mental health difficulties. 

We can offer assessment and treatment.

Please ensure you have the young person’s consent and the parental consent needed if the child is under 12 years old.

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