Special credit to Julie Carlson (MSW, RCSW)


What is trauma?

  • Psychological trauma can be defined as experiences that overwhelm an individual’s capacity to cope. Trauma is common.
  • 3/4 Canadians will experience a traumatic event in their lifetime.
  • 1/10 Canadians will meet the criteria for a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at some point in their lives.
  • Childhood trauma is directly related to future mental health concerns, chronic disease, and addictions.


Trauma and the nervous system

  • When trauma occurs, the nervous system has a fight, flight or freeze response.
  • For some, the trauma symptoms don’t resolve. As a result, the nervous system can become dysregulated and hypervigilant.
  • The effects of trauma can be cumulative, whereas the last event may be the one that triggers the PSTD.


Symptoms that can occur after trauma

  • Having nightmares, thoughts or memories of the event when you don’t want to.
  • Trying hard not to think of the event or avoiding people, places or situations that remind you of the event.
  • Feeling detached or disconnected from people and your surroundings or feeling numb.
  • Feeling “on edge” and “on guard” and startling easily.
  • If these symptoms last more than a month, someone may want to be assessed for PTSD.


Who Can Help?

If you think you have PTSD or trauma symptoms, it is important to get further assessments.

  • Talk to your family doctor.
  • Talk to a mental health professional, such as a therapist.
  • Trauma can be treated!

If You Are In Crisis

Call the crisis line at [1-800-784-2433] or attend your local hospital emergency department.


Low Cost/Free Trauma Counselling Resources

General lower cost/free counselling

Women’s services (for women who have experienced violence)

Men’s services

Refugee services

  • Vancouver Association for Survivors of Torture and Political Violence [vast-vancouver.ca]

University Training Centres (will at times offer trauma-specific counselling)

  • SFU Community Counselling Clinic (Surrey) [604-587-7320]
  • UBC Community Counselling Clinic (New West) [604-525-6651]
  • Trinity Western Clinic (Langley/Abbotsford) [fraserrivercounselling.ca]

    Funding Options

    • Residential Historical Abuse Program (Residential School Survivors and their family members). Contact the First Nations Health Authority for information on how to apply by phone [1-866-913-0033]
    • Crime Victim Assistance Counselling Funding (refer to eligibility guidelines); search “Crime Victim Assistance” on [www2.gov.bc.ca] or call [1-866-660-3888]