Tag Archives: Recovery From Childhood Trauma

Steps To Trauma Recovery

steps to trauma recovery

The psychoanalyst, Rothschild, in her excellent book ‘Keys To Safe Trauma Recovery‘, suggests that recovery from trauma entails just a handful of majo 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 the 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.

steps to trauma recovery

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 ‘unfreeeze’ 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 the concept of posttraumatic growth. A whole category of this site is devoted to posttraumatic growth articles (see MAIN MENU at the top of the page).



Therapies that can be effective for individuals who have suffered childhood trauma include ‘talking therapies’ such as counselling and psychotherapy. Also, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) can be very effective.


What Is The Difference Between A Therapist And Psychologist?

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


Childhood Trauma – Steps to Recovery

childhood trauma and stages of recovery

childhood trauma and stages of recovery

It is important to remember that, no matter how severe our particular experiences of childhood trauma were, people can, and do, recover from such experiences if they undergo an appropriate form of therapy ; cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT (click here to read my article on how CBT can help) for example, is now well established by research findings to be a very effective treatment.

In analysing the recovery process from childhood trauma, it is possible to break it down into seven stages ; I present these stages below :


1) The first very important thing to do is to stop seeing ourselves as abnormal because of the effect our childhood trauma has had on us, but, instead, to see our symptoms/resultant behaviours as A NORMAL REACTION TO ABNORMAL EVENTS/EXPERIENCES.

It is very important to realize that it is highly probable that other people would have been affected in a very similar way to how we ourselves have been affected had they suffered the same adverse experiences that we did.

Coming to such a realization is, I think, important if we wish to keep up our self-esteem.

The kinds of symptoms and behaviours that childhood trauma can lead to are examined in detail in my book ‘The Devastating Effects Of Childhood Trauma’ – see below.

2) A very therapeutic effect can often be achieved by opening up about our traumatic experiences and how we feel they have affected us by talking to others we trust about such matters.

3) If at all possible, it is important that, during the recovery process, we are in an environment in which we feel safe and secure, and which is as stress – free as possible.

4) It is also extremely important that we try to resume normal everyday activities and interpersonal relationships as soon as possible, even if this requires some effort at first. Indeed, the research suggests recovery is very difficult if we do not re-establish human relationships. Also, we need to try to build some structure into our daily lives, as this provides a foundation of stability.

5) We need to accept that we may need much more rest than the average person – this is because the brain needs time to recover. In relation to this, getting the correct nutrients (click here to read my article on this) and sufficient sleep (I needed far more than 8 hours during my recovery) is also very important.

6) We also need to realize that while our experience of trauma entailed a great deal of suffering, many people not only recover from childhood trauma but develop as a human being in extremely positive ways as a result of it ; this phenomenon is known as post traumatic growth (click here to read my article on this).


imagesOG4KSWWLpost traumatic growth

7) Therapy should be seriously considered as there are now many studies which provide extremely solid evidence that therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be highly effective. There are many other therapies and self-help strategies, too; I examine these in my book ‘Therapies For The Effects Of Childhood Trauma’ (see below).

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All above eBooks available on Amazon for immediate download at $4.99. CLICK HERE.TO PURCHASE.

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

Childhood Trauma : Three Key Stages of Recovery.

childhood trauma and stages of recovery

Herman’s Three Stages Of Recovery :

The psychologist and expert on trauma, Judith Herman, has identified three key stages that it is necessary for those who suffered childhood trauma and subsequently developed posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) [now sometimes referred to as complex PTSD] to pass through on their journey to recovery. I have summarized these three stages below :


This stage involves focusing on the symptoms that many suffer as a result of childhood trauma, including :

– difficulty controlling/regulating emotions

– aggression/anger/hostility (click here to read my article about how to control anger)

– alcohol/drug addiction (click here to read my article on this)

– behavioural addictions (internet porn, anonymous sex, gambling etc) click here to read my article on this

– re-enacting abusive patterns of behaviour

– problematic eating behaviours (click here to read my article on this)

– dissociation (click here to read my article about this phenomenon)

– self harm (click here to read my article on this)

– emotional numbing

– feelings of being unsafe/ in danger

– self-neglect/lack of self care

– depression (click here to read my article on this)

– panic attacks

– feelings of powerlessness

– feelings of shame/guilt

– deep distrust of others

It is necessary to identify the symptoms one may have and then to set treatment goals and to learn about ways one will be able to reach those goals.

It is also highly necessary, in this first stage, for the individual to establish a sense of safety and security.

In this first stage, too, inner strengths which may well have been neglected in the past are developed.

It should also be noted that stage one does NOT focus upon discussing and attempting to process painful memories. However, this rule is not set in stone and such memories may be addressed if doing so facilitates creating a sense of safely and/or greater stability and/or good self-care.

Finally, stage one may also include going on medications, if appropriate (for example, anti-depressants), psychotherapy (usually the most appropriate form of therapy is dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT)CLICK HERE TO READ MY ARTICLE ABOUT DBT).  This type of therapy is particularly useful if the person is suffering from extreme difficulties controlling/regulating emotions or is experiencing acute difficulties with interpersonal relationships.

Once a sense of safety, stability, good self-care and the ability to adequately regulate emotions has been achieved, stage two may be moved on to.

Herman's three stages of recovery


Judith Herman called this stage of recovery remembrance and mourning.

During this stage, painful memories are reviewed and discussed with the aim of reducing their emotional intensity and revising their perceived implications for the person’s future life and sense of self-identity. There are many techniques that may be used to process and make less painful memories of trauma. At the time of writing, perhaps, the most popular one is known as eye movement desensitization and restructuring – CLICK HERE TO READ MY ARTICLE ABOUT THIS.

Also, during this stage, the therapist encourages the person to grieve for the losses s/he has suffered due to a traumatic childhood (for example, many who have suffered severe childhood trauma feel, in a very real sense, that their childhood was stolen from them.

This stage is also a time to start coming to terms with the active harm the trauma has done (eg perhaps the pain of the emotional trauma has led to alcoholism, drug addiction, self-harm etc).


Once stage two has been successfully completed, the person can start trying to get on with a ‘normal life’, involving re-forming relationships with other/reconnecting with people and resuming meaningful activities.


This is not the only model of recovery from trauma in existence, but is certainly one of the better known ones. I will look at other models of recovery in later articles.

Recovery is thought to be very difficult if a person stays socially isolated and does not re-connect with others. CLICK HERE TO READ MY ARTICLE ON OVERCOMING RELATIONSHIP DIFFICULTIES.


Above eBooks, by David Hosier MSc, available on Amazon for immediate download – CLICK HERE TO VIEW FURTHER DETAILS.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE.