Big T traumas are those events (eg rape and war), that involve physical harm and/or a threat to life or physical safety. Big T trauma is trauma in its most severe form, often leading to the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Small t traumas are life events that are more common experiences, which are upsetting, but which may not generally be thought of as traumatic. The term small t trauma does not imply, however, that the emotional impact of such an event is insignificant compared to Big T traumas. To the person experiencing it, no small t trauma feels small. The emotional wounds can be as long lasting as those from Big T trauma.
All of us have experienced a number small t traumas in life: being teased or bullied at school, losing friends by moving from school to school during childhood, a teacher shouting at us in front of the whole class, the death of a pet, losing a job, or divorce.
These traumas strongly influence the way you view the world and shape how you cope in life. For example, the small t trauma of being teased or excluded by peers can leave you with low self-esteem and the belief that you are not good enough – despite the fact that you may see no connection between the two.