Experts tend to create their own definition of trauma based on their clinical experiences. However, the most commonly referenced definition is from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):4
“Individual trauma results from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.”
Examples of trauma include, but are not limited to:
- Experiencing or observing physical, sexual, and emotional abuse;
- Childhood neglect;
- Having a family member with a mental health orsubstance use disorder;
- Experiencing or witnessing violence in the community or while serving in the military; and
- Poverty and systemic discrimination.