Traumatic experiences often involve threats to life or safety, but they can also include things like a sudden, unexpected death, physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, or being in a war zone. There are three main types of trauma — acute, chronic, and complex. Understanding what these types of trauma are, and how to cope or recover from them, is essential.

Acute Trauma

The short-term response to a traumatic event is referred to as acute stress disorder and is defined as the presence of intrusive memories, avoidance, and distress within a month of the occurrence of the trauma. Symptoms that continue after a month are often diagnosed as PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).

Chronic Trauma

Chronic trauma is a form of emotional trauma that has long-lasting negative effects on a person’s mental and physical health. This type of trauma can affect many areas of a person’s life, including work and school performance, interpersonal relationships, motivation, and interest in life. It also increases the risk of substance abuse, which can result in financial and legal problems, strained relationships, and even death.

Complex Trauma

In the simplest terms, complex trauma is when one person has experienced multiple, chronic, or prolonged traumatic events. Complex trauma is often a combination of both acute and chronic trauma that disrupts a person’s sense of self and development. This can happen to anyone, but it is more common in children and people who have been subjected to abuse or neglect. This can be difficult to cope with and can lead to long-term problems that are similar in some ways to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) but distinct in others.


A therapist can teach you how to confront your feared thoughts, feelings, or situations without feeling threatened. This therapy can be especially helpful if you have nightmares or flashbacks from your trauma. Let the professionals of Cornell & Associates Marriage and Family Therapy teach you how to cope with your symptoms and recover from trauma in a healthy, sustainable way. Contact them today: