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The psychoanalyst, Rothschild, in her excellent book ‘Keys To Safe Trauma Recovery‘, suggests that recovery from trauma entails just a handful of major elements and I list these below. Underneath some of the elements that appear on the list, I have added my own short elaborations and elucidations in terms of how each element may relate specifically to recovery from childhood trauma.
 
1) Recognizing that one has experienced trauma and survived it. In the case of childhood trauma, it is essential that the victim’s feelings in relation to it are validated by at least one significant other; the psychotherapist and childhood trauma expert Alice Miller termed such a person an ‘enlightened witness’. An enlightened witness is so vital because It is not unusual for other members of the traumatized individual’s family to invalidate his/her feelings (e.g. belittling them or dismissing them) for reasons connected to their own guilt and complicity.
 
2) Coming to terms with flashbacks and understanding their relationship to traumatic memories (to read my article Horowitz’s Information Processing Theory, Flashbacks And Nightmares‘, click here).
 
3) Self-Compassion Many individuals suffer from IRRATIONAL feelings of self-blame and guilt in relation to their traumatic childhood experiences; for example, a child whose parents divorce may erroneously blame him/herself for the parents’ marital breakdown. It is essential to free oneself from such inaccurate and self-destructive beliefs. To read my article on Compassion Focused Therapy For The Effects Of Childhood Trauma‘, click here.  
 
4) The need to overcome feelings of shame. Closely related to self-blame and guilt, irrational feelings of shame are also extremely common amongst survivors of childhood trauma and the victim may require significant therapeutic intervention to facilitate the amelioration of such feelings. To read my article entitled ‘Shame And Its Agonizing Effects‘, click here.
 
5) Recovery from trauma best achieved by breaking the recovery process down into small, manageable steps.
 
6) Mobilizing the body out of its ‘frozen’ state Trauma affects the body’s biological functioning and can have the effect of ‘freezing’ it into a state of physiological HYPERAROUSAL and FEAR. Exercising for about 30 minutes a day can help ‘unfreeze’ the body, not least because it helps to return adrenaline levels to normal (those ‘frozen’ in a hyperaroused and fearful state have an excess of adrenaline coursing through their systems, contributing significantly to feelings of physical tension and associated emotional distress.
 
7) Deriving meaning and purpose from one’s traumatic experiences in a way that leads to self-improvement. This essentially refers to the concept of posttraumatic growth.
 
THERAPIES:
 
Therapies that can be effective for individuals who have suffered childhood trauma include ‘talking therapies’ such as counselling and psychotherapy. Also, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) can be very effective.

 

DEVELOPING RESILIENCE:

 

Different people respond in different ways to trauma. One of the reasons for this is that some people are more resilient to its adverse effects than others and even manage to grow and develop as a person in positive ways that would not have occurred had they not experienced the traumatic event/s.

However, resilience is not something that a person either has or does not have, rather, it is something that we can build and develop. According to the American Psychological Association there are TEN MAIN WAYS WE CAN INCREASE OUR RESILIENCE and these are as follows :

 

  1. Develop social connections: e.g. with supportive family members, friends, community support groups (in general, the more social/emotional support we have, the more psychologically resilient we are likely to be. Research has also found that working as a volunteer and helping others is another good strategy for resilience-building.
  2. If changes have occurred which are irreversible, accept that this is just part of what life involves and direct energy towards things that can be positively changed.
  3. Take decisive action: when one has suffered trauma it is easy to fall into the trap of endlessly ruminating upon what has gone wrong and feel helpless; it is necessary to avoid this, and, instead, take decisive action to change things for the better (see my previously published article on childhood trauma and depression which includes information on LEARNED HELPLESSNESS AND BEHAVIORAL ACTIVATION).
  4. Try to keep an optimistic outlook – rather than negatively ruminate, attempt to visualize solutions / how you would like the future to turn out.
  5. Try to maintain perspective by seeing things in the context of the ‘bigger picture’ / taking a long-term view.
  6. Self-care: Treat yourself with compassion, do things you enjoy (or used to enjoy), exercise, eat well and generally look after your needs and feelings (especially by avoiding stress as far as possible.
  7. Consider if the trauma may, in some respects, help develop you as a person; there may be opportunities for posttraumatic growth – for example, some trauma survivors report improved relationships, increased inner strength and coping ability, spiritual growth, a greater sense of self-worth (knowing they can survive great difficulties, for example) and increased empathy for the suffering of others as a result of their adverse experiences.
  8. Focus upon maintaining a positive self-view, especially in relation to your problem-solving abilities.
  9. Try to set goals each day that help you to move forward, however small, so that at the end of the day you can know you have done at least one positive thing.
  10. Avoid ‘catastrophizing’ (seeing crises as insurmountable problems) – cognitive behavioural therapy can help with this, as well as with other so-called ‘thinking errors’).

RESOURCE:

 

Develop Powerful Resilience | Self Hypnosis Downloads

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).