Simple, complex and developmental trauma; a short guide to each type


Trauma can be defined in many different ways – there are lots of definitions and sub categories, which can make it somewhat confusing when it comes to understanding the complexities of it. Three of the more common types of trauma are simple, complex and developmental trauma.

Simple trauma often occurs from single incidents such as; car accidents, house fires, bushfires, earthquakes and other natural disasters. It is overwhelming and painful, involving experiences of events that are life threatening and/or have the potential to cause serious injury, but they aren’t likely to be subject to any stigma, as there would generally be a supportive and community response to people experiencing this type of trauma, and they are also unlikely to be experienced repetitively over time.

Complex trauma, on the other hand, is often associated with stigma and a sense of shame experienced by the victims. It can involve interpersonal threat, violence and violation and is often found within relationships. Examples of complex trauma include experiences of child abuse, bullying, domestic violence, rape, war and imprisonment.

Developmental trauma is that which is experienced during a time of development, such as childhood trauma, which takes place while the young brain is still developing. Developmental trauma can include children who are neglected, abused, forced to live with family violence or experiencing high parental conflict in the context of separation or divorce.

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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