According to the American Psychological Association, psychological trauma refers to the emotional response that occurs following a terrible event such as an assault, natural disaster, or motor vehicle accident. Psychological trauma can result in longer term concerns such as difficulties with emotion regulation, flashbacks, unexplained physical symptoms, and difficulties participating in usual day-to-day activities compared to pre-event functioning. More recently, psychological trauma is known to impact the mind, brain, and body in many complex ways. Experts in the field of psychological trauma have identified many ways of categorizing psychological trauma. 

  1. Single traumatic events are acute near-death or other overwhelming events that you were under-equipped to navigate at the time they occur. 
  2. Chronic traumatic experiences occur over a longer time frame. 
  3. Developmental trauma comes from traumatic events and experiences during our childhood through to young adult years. Developmental trauma may occur from single events or chronic experiences and can also be relational. It is distinguished from other types of psychological trauma in that it may have caused additional disruptions to development based on the age and stage of development you were at when it occurred. 
  4. Complex or relational traumatic events or experiences refer to interpersonal violations and typically involve our attachment relationships. They can be during our developing years (0-24 years of age) or adult-onset (age 25 years of age or older).

Adaptive experiences are enriching and nurturing moments we have had throughout our lifespan. Adaptive experiences are protective factors. They will impact the degree to which traumatic events and experiences affect you. 

Did you know there was a difference?

It’s important to distinguish the types of traumatic events and experiences you may have had as it will have an impact on your present-day symptoms and current mental health presentation. A trauma-informed and trauma-treatment-trained Calgary psychologist can help you recover from the various types of traumatic events or experiences. However, advanced and specific training is needed for a mental health therapist to help you recover from complex, chronic, and developmental traumatic experiences. 

To assist in your recovery from traumatic events and experiences, our team at Choice Point Psychological Services will consider the types of traumatic events and experiences you have had when helping you create a custom wellness plan. Reclaiming your mental health is possible. Contact us today to get started!


American Psychological Association (n.d.). Trauma.,symptoms%20like%20headaches%20or%20nausea.

Van der Kolk, B. (2015). The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Penguin Books.

Anderson, F. (2015). Transcending Trauma: Healing Complex PTSD with Internal Family Systems Paperback. PESI Publishing, Inc.