There are four major
ways people resolve trauma:
Watch this video to hear me hold forth about this:
Or read details here:
1. They connect with a future with possibilities
Most people who have been traumatized are focused on the past. Or at least some part of them seems frozen in time at some moment or moments in the past. This past focus makes sense as a survival strategy since people are often wary of re-encountering that which hurt, frightened or damaged them so it will be less likely to happen in the future.
But most people who are suffering the after-effects of trauma are no longer in the original traumatizing situation and are unlikely to encounter it again. Still they monitor the present (or the future) for something akin to what hurt them. This monitoring is based on the past.
In order to move on, then, focusing on imagining and connecting to a future without the trauma or the traumatic after-effects can help you move on.
Learn to use the "Future Pull" method of resolving trauma by downloading this audio program.
Here is a link to buy an audio program in which I am talking to a group of therapists about using the future to heal trauma. It is an hour long program and is available for $14.00 (USD). It is an MP3 file, so you can transfer it to your iPod or MP3 player or transfer it to a CD and listen to it on a CD player.
2. They break up repeating unhelpful patterns
People who have experienced trauma often develop patterns that repeat themselves for years after the trauma. The patterns may involve seeing images from the trauma, acting out behaviors that seems out of control, smelling scents that intrude upon them, reacting to sound that remind them of the traumatic event(s), and so on. Sometimes they develop obsessive rituals or compulsive patterns.
One of the ways out of trauma, then, is to learn to recognize and change these patterns. Listen to this audio and download this e-workbook to learn how to heal trauma by breaking patterns. [Audio and e-book to come soon-please check back]
3. They include feelings, thoughts, memories and aspects of themselves that they have disowned or kept at bay
We see this in an extreme version in "multiple personality," in which a person splits him- or herself into pieces to cope with and store bits of memory, sensation and pain from the trauma because it is just too overwhelming to handle. But many of us have parts of ourselves that become split off (dissociated) and are therefore not integrated with the rest of who we are.
The dissociated aspects of ourselves often develop a life of their own and wreak havoc in our lives. They may be involved in compulsive or shameful sexuality; uncontrollable rage; bouts of overwhelming sadness or fear; compulsive or addictive drinking or drug use and other problems.
One of the ways to heal involves including, in active and gentle ways, those aspects that have been excluded and disowned. I call this inclusive therapy. I have written a book on it, called A Guide to Inclusive Therapy, published by W.W. Norton. And, if you are interested in learning more right now, you can download this audio program or e-book that will tell you about how to recognize and resolve this area of trauma. [Audio and e-book to come soon-please check back]
4. They connect in places they have disconnected
One of the most common negative effects of trauma is that people disconnect from themselves, others and from a bigger meaning or purpose (or God or spirituality).
Disconnecting seems to be a natural protective mechanism, to withdraw from the possibility of getting hurt further or being overwhelmed by the feelings, sensations or memories of the trauma. The problem comes, however, when the disconnection lingers on long after the trauma and creates problems of it own.
When people disconnect from themselves (called by psychologists and psychotherapists, "dissociation"), they often use lots of energy to keep the disconnected feelings, sensations or memories at bay. They can also lose some valuable resources. And they can begin to feel hollow or numb in certain aspects of their lives, like something essential or crucial is missing.
When people disconnect from others, they can feel isolated, alienated, lonely or frightened. They lose some social support, which can lead to depression and other problems.
When people disconnect from a larger sense of life, or from God, or their spiritual sensibilities, they can lose meaning and feel that all is bleak or useless.
So, one of the ways to move on from trauma is to reconnect.
Learn about the seven pathways for connection and how to reconnect in this downloadable audio.
Seven Pathways to Connection audio download:
This is a recording of a talk I gave to a group of therapists working with PTSD about helping discover how people disconnect and connect in the wake of trauma. You can buy it for $8.00 (USD) by clicking on the link button below. It is an MP3 file, so you can transfer it to your iPod or MP3 player or transfer it to a CD and listen to it on a CD player.
New e-book coming soon: