A traumatic experience can damage our psychological well-being. The impacts can range from disruptions to our lives to a complete fragmentation of our sense of ourselves. The consequences of trauma can be obvious, the result of physical injury like a car crash or an emotional injury like death of a friend or relative, breakdown of a relationship or witnessing a disaster. But the consequences of trauma can also be less obvious like growing up with overly critical parents so that nothing you do feels good enough.
The impact of trauma is experienced in many ways. It can result in health problems like an adverse immune system response. It can prevent you from functioning effectively in the world, your capacity to be in a relationship, keep a job or even feel like you matter in the world. Trauma affects each of us in unique ways, which means a definitive list of traumatic impacts is difficult to describe, but it can make day-to-day living difficult, painful and for some, almost impossible.
The effects of trauma can be overwhelming. For this reason we tend to push them outside of our conscious awareness which allows us to carry on as if the trauma had never occurred. But the trauma can get lodged in our memory, outside the reach of our consciousness and result in us feeling, acting and thinking in particular ways we cannot account for - unconscious of the control that the trauma is exerting on us. We can find ourselves re-living the traumatic experience even though we are elsewhere or with someone else yet feeling as though we are experiencing the traumatic experience all over again.
Psychotherapy is useful in helping us identify how the trauma is affecting our lives, possibly even where the trauma originates. It can help in finding ways to dilute the potency of the trauma, to better manage it and to render it less disruptive. Psychotherapy allows us to talk about the trauma as it emerges in our current experience, it can help make the unconscious experience more conscious and through reflecting on it, work out ways to lessen its control.