VIDEO: When is It Trauma? Bessel van der Kolk Explains

Is Your Client Traumatized? For the Answer, Look to the Body

Bessel van der Kolk

Often we hear things from clients like “My relationship ending was so traumatic for me,” or “When my uncle passed away, I was totally traumatized.” With the word trauma being used so loosely and for such a wide range of problems, how do we know what it actually means anymore?

According to trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk, author of The Body Keeps the Score, understanding how trauma affects the body can help us distinguish between true trauma, and incidents that, while distressing, aren't really traumatic after all. In this video clip with Networker editor Rich Simon, van der Kolk explains. 



Bessel van der Kolk, MD, is the medical director of The Trauma Center in Boston, professor of psychiatry at Boston University Medical School, and codirector of the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress Complex Trauma Network.


As van der Kolk notes, trauma is specifically an event that overwhelms the central nervous system, altering the way we process and recall memories. “Trauma is not the story of something that happened back then," he adds. "It’s the current imprint of that pain, horror, and fear living inside people.”


Topic: Trauma | Mind/Body

Tags: Bessel van der Kolk | mind body | PTSD | survivors | trauma treatment | traumatic | traumatized | treating trauma

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2 Comments

Friday, September 12, 2014 7:53:02 PM | posted by daisy swadesh
Dr. van der Kolk has made contributions of critical importance to our understanding of PTSD and Developmental Trauma. If you want to know more about this go (back) to your first class of college physiology which describes the many body systems involving homeostasis. Trauma alters the set point of homeostasis of the stress response.

Thursday, September 11, 2014 4:59:28 PM | posted by Katie O'Shea
My definition of trauma (which I haven't found the need to change since 1992) is:
"Threat we're not prepared to handle."
It works for early attachment trauma and pervasive environments as well as events.