Trauma - Information Sheet for Family / Carers

Definition of Trauma:

Trauma can be defined as a response to a situation (single or ongoing) where a person feels that he/she or someone they love is in a situation that is dangerous (physically or psychologically). As a result, the person feels helpless or overwhelmed and the world no longer feels like a safe place. They may continue to find it harder to trust people, feel permanently on edge or anxious, it may be more difficult to concentrate or sleep, and they may have less patience on a daily basis.

When traumatised our behaviour can change and so just being mindful of this and observing any changes in your young people is worth doing. You can then talk to them to see whether they need a bit of extra support.

Complex Trauma:

There is recognition that some people experience ‘complex trauma’. Complex trauma symptoms can occur with regularity and manifest at times that do not appear to be linked to a traumatic event. Complex trauma symptoms can include:

  • Reliving the trauma through flashbacks and nightmares
  • Avoiding situations that remind them of the trauma
  • Dizziness or nausea when remembering the trauma
  • Hyperarousal, which means being in a continual state of high alert
  • The belief that the world is a dangerous place
  • A loss of trust in self or others
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Being startled by loud noises
  • A negative self-view. Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can cause a person to view themselves negatively and feel helpless, guilty, or ashamed. They often consider themselves to be different from other people
  • Changes in beliefs and worldview. People may hold a negative view of the world and the people in it or lose faith in previously held beliefs.
  • Emotional regulation difficulties. These conditions can cause people to lose control over their emotions. They may experience intense anger or sadness or have thoughts of suicide
  • Relationship issues. Relationships may suffer due to difficulties trusting and interacting, and because of a negative self-view. A person may develop unhealthy relationships because they are what the person has known in the past
  • Detachment from the trauma. A person may dissociate, which means feeling detached from emotions or physical sensations. Some people completely forget the trauma

Information and Support

Coping kits are really useful (in life generally) to help young people build up their own resilience and strategies that they know will help them when they are stressed. Example coping kits can be found here and here. A self-help plan is available is available separately in the well-being centre.

An explanation of how the brain ‘learns’ and how coping kits can work can be found here.

1 - Websites

A useful starting point for additional information is:

2 - Apps

  • Calm -Harm – reduces urges to self-harm- App managing emotions based on CBT principles
  • Catch It – learn to manage negative thoughts
  • Chill Panda – breathing techniques to help relax
  • Chat Health - Support for young people (11-19 year olds) text 07507 330025

3 - Mental health services

Trent PTS and Insight

IAPT. For people over 16: Call 0333 0153 496 or submit a self- referral at

And there is also information on the following website -

4 - Podcasts

Trauma, and PTSD, expert, Professor Andrea Danese talks to freelance journalist Jo Carlowe.

Dan Johnson and Jo Carlowe discuss trauma-informed care, the impact of the ACE’s framework on clinical practice and government policy and the difference between adversity and trauma.