The difference between ‘stress’ and ‘trauma’


It is important to distinguish between ‘stress’ and ‘trauma’ when we are considering childhood trauma and its impact. Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances. It is something that challenges our capacity to cope. Everyone has a different capacity to cope and this can be influenced by our family of origin, genetics, training, experience, support networks and more. Stress also isn’t necessarily a bad thing – some amount of stress can be good for us, in that it can help us accomplish tasks or boost our memory, though too much stress is definitely a bad thing.

Alternately, trauma is defined as a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. From the stress that accompanies experiences of threat, violence, and life-challenging events comes trauma of an emotional, psychological or physiological nature. A traumatic experience has the ability to overwhelm your capacity to cope, and because we each have a different capacity to cope, there will be many differences in the way we respond to similar levels of trauma or similar traumatising events. As the trauma is so overwhelming, it’s not possible to be resilient to it, and this is where we see the effects of trauma come into play; shutting down feelings, suppressing memories, acting out.

The Wishing Well foundation

The Wishing Well was established in 2010 to offer children in out-of-home care, such as foster care and residential care, a range of healing and treatment options usually not accessible as a free therapy in mainstream health.

The Wishing Well raises funds to enable children and young people to access developmentally-appropriate and trauma-informed treatments shown to be highly effective in dealing with severe trauma and neglect. These therapies respond to the unique needs of each child and young person.

The Wishing Well is a not-for-profit incorporated charity organisation, established and managed by people seeking to improve outcomes for children and young people in out-of-home care and their families. The Wishing Well recognises the importance of the act of giving. We recognise the significance of the participation of community members and all donations are most appreciated.

The Wishing Well operates ethically, effectively and empathically with a view to achieving quality outcomes and a satisfying working environment.

Support the Wishing Well

The Wishing Well uses its funds to help children in need access all manners of developmentally-appropriate and trauma-informed treatments. The Wishing Well takes referrals for any child/young person in out-of-home care in NSW.  Applications are assessed by qualified personnel and on a case-by-case basis.  The decision to fund an application is affected by the following:

  • Funding availability
  • The support the child/young person has to access the proposed therapies
  • The capacity and willingness of the Carer Household to support the child/young person
  • Assessment, which recommends and supports the proposed therapy as relevant to meeting the particular needs of the child/young person

The Wishing Well gratefully receives donations, funding and resources through bequests, corporate partnerships, fundraising events, grants, online donations and other fund raising activities. Money donated to The Wishing Well enables traumatised children access to healing therapies. Please see our website for more information:


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