Commonly Used Terms in Trauma-Informed Care

ACEsAdverse childhood experiences that include emotional, physical, or sexual abuse; emotional or physical neglect; domestic violence; parental substance use; parental mental illness; parental separation or divorce; or incarceration of a household member.1
TraumaPsychological trauma occurs when a child experiences an intense event that threatens or causes harm to his or her emotional and physical well-being.4
Child traumatic stressThe intense fear and stress response occurring when children are exposed to traumatic events that overwhelm their ability to cope with what they have experienced.
The 12 Core Concepts defined by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network in 2007 are key tenets for professionals to understand the impact of traumatic level adverse experiences on children (see Table 2) and provide a rationale for trauma-informed assessment and intervention.
Toxic stressTerm introduced by Garner and Shonkoff and the AAP.5 Defined as excessive or prolonged activation of the physiologic stress response systems in the absence of the buffering protection afforded by stable, responsive relationships.
PTSDSet of psychiatric symptoms meeting Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, criteria for PTSD after a person has experienced, witnessed, or learned of a close family member experiencing an event involving actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violation (see text).