Trauma and Grounding

Hey everyone, and welcome to week 10 of our blog posts. For those of you who participated in the polls for this post, thank you! And you’ll also have noticed that all of the questions I asked were about grounding techniques. I asked, “have you heard of grounding techniques?” 11 people said yes, and 1 said no. I’m pleased and surprised that so many people know about grounding, because it’s such a wonderful tool. I also asked, “do you have a favourite grounding technique?” and received answers like box breathing and tree visualisation.

Of course, today’s topic is trauma and grounding, but I only asked the audience about grounding. I was racking my brain over how to ask you all questions about trauma, and I felt that any question I came up with felt too personal or more like a question I should be answering for you. Trauma is a difficult topic to talk about! It’s difficult enough that I spent some time wondering if I should use it as a topic at all. But I reminded myself that we’ve covered difficult topics on this blog before, e.g. sexual assault and harassment for SVAM, and that if a topic is difficult to talk about, it’s often even more critical that we do.

Why Trauma?

So why did I choose trauma and grounding as the topic for this week?

1) I’ve been working on our trauma informed communities presentation, and my brain is so filled with this information!

2) 75% of people will experience some type of traumatic event in their lives.

3) As with resilience and self-care, it seemed like an extremely relevant topic right now.

I often hear from coworkers that because of COVID-19, we are going through a collective experience of global trauma. That can be pretty heavy to hear, but I think it’s all the more important that we talk about it and learn more about trauma and what we can do to get through it in a healthy way. COVID-19 may be something that we don’t know much about, and don’t have the tools to fix right now. But we do know a lot about trauma, and there are proven techniques that help you with that! It’s actually an empowering idea, at least for me, that while COVID is a scary unknown, the experience of trauma is a scary experience that we know and can work through together!

Trauma is the lasting emotional response that often results from living through distressing events in our lives, that we perhaps didn’t predict were going to happen. Sounds like COVID-19 to a tee! But there are many types of events that can be considered trauma. The distressing event from the definition could be a recent, single traumatic event – like a car crash, a single traumatic event from the past – like a natural disaster, or a series of events (long-term chronic pattern trauma) such as child abuse.

You may have heard of big T and little t trauma. Dr. Barbash on Psychology Today defines big T trauma is defined as “an extraordinary and significant event that leaves the individual feeling powerless” (Source 1). Examples include everything I just mentioned; a car crash, natural disaster or abuse. She defines little t trauma as “events that exceed our capacity to cope and cause a disruption in emotional functioning” (Source 1). Examples include neglect, divorce and financial worries.

People often think of trauma as very intense experiences, like natural disasters or sexual assault, and these are some of the most profound experiences people can endure. However, events we tend to overlook, such as childhood neglect or financial trouble,