Trauma is a psychological response to an event that a person’s nervous system perceives as life-threatening to themselves or others and which exceeds their capacity to cope with the emotions involved. Whilst traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety, any situation that leaves someone feeling overwhelmed and isolated can result in trauma, even if it doesn’t involve physical harm.

Traumatic events are processed subjectively by different individuals because of the differences in their upbringing and previous life experiences. Therefore, people react to similar traumatic events differently; what may be mildly upsetting to one individual may be completely terrifying to another.

Developmental trauma occurs as a result of abuse, neglect, and/or abandonment during the early years of a child’s life. It disrupts the infant or child’s neurological, cognitive, and psychological development and their ability to attach to an adult caregiver. Developmental trauma may occur when parents or caregivers are unaware of the physical, social and emotional needs of their children, as well as because of intentional abuse and/or neglect. Children with developmental trauma may see the world as intrinsically unsafe or threatening
Individuals who are traumatised need to be able to feel safe and to regulate their emotions in order to cope with the levels of stress and threat they often feel. Children who have not been taught how to regulate their own emotions will require an adult to co-regulate with them, as they will not be able to do this by themselves.

Click here to watch the video of the ‘Still Face Experiment’ which shows the impact of a mildly traumatic experience on a baby.


Find out more about attachment

What is attachment and why is it important? The quality of attachment that an infant develops with a specific caregiver is largely determined by the caregiver’s response to the infant when the infant’s attachment system is ‘activated’ 


Find out more about resilience

‘The single most common factor for children who develop resilience is at least one stable and committed relationship …. ’.


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By joining The ARC you will become part of a growing community who are all committed to developing best practice by sharing their learning about attachment and trauma.