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Can Small Traumas Add Up to Big Effects?

The word trauma may evoke an image of life-threatening violent events. While these types of traumas are definitely within the purview of therapists who can help people heal and recover, it’s also important to acknowledge the lasting effects of less severe forms of trauma. In modern culture, we often refer to mildly upsetting experiences as being traumatic. This may be said in a facetious way. It is often brushed off as just a joke. However, there’s more truth in these statements than you might expect. In fact, research into the effects of not life-threatening traumatic experiences shows that, over time, the impact can become just as severe as the more serious forms of trauma. In this blog, we discuss the difference between big “T” and little “t” trauma, how they affect us, and why therapy is an important resource in processing trauma of all kinds.

The Effects of Big “T” VS Little “t” Trauma

It’s important to understand that trauma of any kind will impact the mind and body. Even if you don’t notice any dramatic effects right away, trauma is likely leaving a mark. When people hear the word trauma, it’s the big “T” type of trauma that often comes to mind. Things like near death experiences, domestic violence, war, and other violent events are commonly associated with trauma. However, there are smaller traumatic experiences that can accumulate and lead to more serious impact if they aren’t processed. For example, in any given day, you may be exposed to numerous little “t” traumas. Some examples include things like seeing an employee getting yelled at while you’re shopping at the grocery story, narrowly avoiding a car accident, or almost tripping and falling down the stairs. While these events might get your heart pumping for a few moments, the effects don’t usually seem to linger. You may even forget that they happened, but your mind and body will remember.

What Happens if Trauma Isn’t Addressed?

Over years of these experiences occurring, you may start to notice that you don’t bounce back as quickly after one of these little “t” traumas. Maybe you’re feeling excessive levels of anxiety or worry. You feel like you can’t let these things go. Maybe you’re fixated on what you should have done to avoid these situations to begin with. These are all signs that your experiences with smaller traumatic events are adding up to a bigger impact on your daily life. When this occurs, it’s important to take the time to learn strategies to process and heal following trauma. This ensures your brain and body aren’t holding onto trauma and causing damage or negatively impacting your daily experiences.

How Does Therapy Help?

Therapy is the best way to process through these experiences, so you can alleviate the way they affect your daily life. There are many healing therapy approaches that help people manage the effects of both big “T” and little “t” traumas. At the Center for CBT in New York City, we offer a variety of trauma therapy approaches, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and somatic experiencing. If you’re interested in learning more, we hope you’ll get in touch with us. Please feel free to reach out by calling (917) 596-8955 or by filling out our online inquiry form.

Photo by Daniele Salutari on Unsplash


What Should I Do Next?

When you’re ready to begin therapy, we hope you’ll consider contacting The Center for CBT in New York City. We offer a safe space where you are free to be who you really are and express yourself and your values authentically. We embrace, value, and welcome people of all sexual orientations, genders, and racial identities. The Center for CBT in New York City makes beginning your therapy journey simple. You can get started any time by completing our online consultation request form. One of our team members will be in touch within 24 business hours to answer your questions.

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