How does trauma affect communication

Trauma effects Communication

Trauma can have a significant impact on a person’s communication. Some of the ways trauma can affect communication include:

1. Difficulty with trust and safety around others: Trauma survivors may struggle with trusting others and feeling safe around people. This may lead them to be guarded in their communication. “On the defensive.”

2. Avoidance of triggers: They may avoid certain topics, places, or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. So communication may be steered away from certain topics, or the person may just “shut down” at the mention of certain things.

3. Emotional regulation issues: Trauma can lead to difficulty regulating emotions, which can result in outbursts, avoidance, or difficulty expressing emotions appropriately. Sometimes anger that comes from trauma can act to shut down any mention from others of anything to do with the trauma, even getting help.

4. Memory problems: Trauma can affect memory, causing difficulties with recall and increased forgetfulness. Even concentration during conversation, being easily distracted or losing train of thought.

5. Changes in language: Trauma survivors may use vague or guarded language, or avoid talking about the traumatic event altogether. This can come in the form of not even talking about topics that have emotional content.

6. Intrusive thoughts: Trauma can cause intrusive thoughts or flashbacks, which can interrupt communication and make it difficult to focus on the present moment.

7. Feeling detached from family and friends is a common trauma symptom and can obviously make it hard to open up with others or to experience empathy. Trauma survivors can sometimes describe a wall between them and others.

8. Dissociation: “Zoning out”, feeling like everything is surreal or as if you are outside your body is something that can occur to trauma survivors and can make it hard to be present during communication.

If you or someone you know has experienced trauma, don’t let it  impact your relationships, career, or quality of life. Take the first step towards re-connecting with others and communicating. Book an appointment at the Centre for Clinical Psychology, on 03 9077 0122 or online. Our team of psychologists can help you overcome a range of mental health challenges that can happen after trauma and achieve your goals.


American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).