Type A and Type B Traumas Defined

orphan, unhappy boy sitting on a park bench and crying

21 Feb Type A and Type B Traumas Defined

Many teens that suffer from addiction or a mental health issue have experienced some type of trauma in their lives. Trauma is defined as a “deeply distressing or disturbing experience” and it falls into one of two types of trauma—Type A or Type B. This concept, which was introduced by the Life Model, is helping many people identify where they were impacted and start the road to recovery.

Type A Trauma

Type A trauma is not as easily seen or identified. It comes about as the result of neglect, i.e. the absence of basic needs being fulfilled. Type A traumas include things such as abandonment, malnutrition, lack of affection or attention, absence of age-appropriate limits, an unhealthy emotional environment in the home, or even the lack of teaching of basic life skills.

Although Type A traumas are less visible to the human eye, they always cause damage, particularly when the trauma occurs during childhood. Early Type A trauma impacts the brain’s ability to develop a stable personality and the emotional ability to process events. This can trigger a host of problems, including fearful or aggressive behavior, ADHD, learning disabilities, attachment disorders, or physical development in the impacted child.

Type B Trauma

Type B trauma results from specific traumatic events, such as physical, sexual, or verbal abuse; war; bullying, assault; a car accident; or a near-death experience—both when they are experienced or witnessed. The difference between Type A and Type B trauma is that Type B category events may not always result in trauma, depending on the strength of a person’s emotional and psychological development, particularly in early childhood. A person with a more healthy environment in early childhood is much more likely to develop a capacity to handle negative events.

Type B trauma occurs when the emotion in response to an event is stronger than the person’s capacity to deal with it. In response to the overload, the brain will shut off certain parts of the brain in a desperate attempt to survive. This is where depression, post traumatic stress disorders, dissociation, or addictions can develop.

Studies show that around two-thirds of addicted adults had some type of trauma in their childhood. Addiction is often an attempt to self-medicate. For that reason, a teen going through a teen rehab treatment center program will very likely be led through a process of identifying events or situations that caused trauma.

Trauma is common—approximately 70 percent of American adults have experienced it. When trauma goes unaddressed, it can perpetuate psychological, relational, and societal problems. For that reason, it’s extremely important to identify and treat it as soon as possible.

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