Recovering from Trauma
#Recovering from Trauma
Trauma creates helplessness, isolation and the loss of power and control. The guiding principles to help recover from trauma are the restoration of safety and empowerment. Recovery does not necessarily mean complete freedom from post-traumatic affects but generally it is the ability to live in the present without being overwhelmed by the thoughts and feelings of the past.
- Safety and Stabilization
The first phase is to help people affected by trauma feel safe again. Often, trauma will make people feel unsafe in their bodies and in their relationships with others as their perceptions have been altered by the event. Being able to reclaim a sense of safety will take some time. However, in figuring out what areas of life need to be stabilized and how that will be accomplished is helpful in moving toward recovery.
Remembrance and Mourning
The second phase helps with processing the trauma, putting words and emotions to it and making meaning of it. While still ensuring the person feels safe to allow them to move through this phase in a way that integrates the story of the trauma rather than reacting to it in a fight, flight or freeze response. During this phase the person affected by trauma can become overwhelmed quickly and flooded by emotions when discussing the trauma. It is important to regain safety and stability throughout the process. This portion is not used to tell the story without emotions attached or to re-live the trauma. This phase requires mourning the losses associated with trauma and allowing the person to express their emotions and providing the space for grieving.
Reconnecting and Integrating
In the third phase there is a creation of a new future and new sense of self. Through this process, the trauma no longer is a defining and organizing principle is your life. The trauma has become integrated into your life story but is not the only story that defines you. Recovery is not defined by completely removing thoughts or feelings about the traumatic experience but instead being able to live with it in a way that it isn’t in control of your life. It is important to be compassionate, gentle, and patient with yourself as you move through this healing process.