Understanding the Impact of Processing Trauma

Processing trauma can be a difficult and overwhelming experience. It can cause a range of emotions, from depression and anxiety to fear, guilt, and powerlessness. Even seemingly innocuous stimuli, such as a song or a place, can trigger an emotional response related to the trauma. Other common reactions include hyperalertness or hypoalertness, anxiety, anger, shame, and guilt.

Over time, depression, avoidance behaviors, and addiction may also develop.The goal of trauma processing is to develop the skills necessary to cope with the ways in which trauma still manifests itself in life. This can help reduce the frequency of panic attacks, fear, and despair. Before beginning trauma processing, many survivors may need to learn and practice self-care skills that they can use during the memory work phase of therapy. Trauma can also destroy fundamental beliefs about safety and goodness in the world, leading to depression and isolation.Not all trauma survivors need to process trauma.

It is important to have a strong and secure bond between client and therapist before beginning this work. Additionally, some clients may find that improving self-regulation is enough to improve their quality of life without needing to process the traumatic event itself. For those who do choose to process their trauma, it is important to start by feeling their emotions rather than minimizing them.The process of trauma integration involves six stages: stabilization, safety and trust building, affect regulation, memory integration, meaning making, and narrative processing. During narrative processing, the client works to develop a narrative about their experience that allows them to have a sense of control over the event that changed their life.

This stage is based on conversation and focuses on recognizing strengths rather than focusing solely on fear, pain, and loss.Individual therapy is often recommended for interpersonal trauma such as childhood sexual abuse or sexual assault. However, group therapy can also be beneficial as it allows survivors to see that other people have gone through similar experiences and is usually more affordable than individual therapy.

Ruth Bupp
Ruth Bupp

Total music maven. Infuriatingly humble pop culture advocate. Proud coffee enthusiast. Infuriatingly humble food scholar. Freelance twitter guru. Evil beer junkie.

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