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3 Concepts to Help Trauma Survivors Move Forward Into Healthier Relationships

 

It’s good, healthy and human to want love and seek it out. We live longer, healthier lives when we feel close to someone safe. Some people feel painfully disconnected, and long to open up to others. But then they stop themselves from reaching out.

As therapists, we want to empower people to build more meaningful connections. For all of us, healthy relationships matter. In fact, deep relationships are essential to life as a healthy human being. For trauma survivors, the act of deepening relationships in a healthy way can be particularly difficult.

Well-meant urging or pressure to reach out in a time of need does not work for those who have experienced trauma. Something seemingly simple like accepting a compliment may be painfully hard. But the ability to integrate these fears and hesitations is crucial to our work in helping others live a fuller, more balanced life.

Why Entering a Healing Relationship Is Challenging for Trauma Survivors

I want to offer some thoughts to help people explore, rather than criticize themselves for their struggle to connect with others. There are good reasons trauma survivors resist forming deeper relationships. It seems impossible to become vulnerable enough (and stay safe) to admit what they want or need, let alone share it. Self-imposed isolation has become a way to cope:

  • Some feel they should hunker down and handle their struggles themselves.
  • Some tell themselves, “Nobody will get it.”
  • Often, trauma survivors feel ashamed or weak—like they don’t deserve support or compassion.
  • For some, it’s the only way they have felt somewhat safe in the past – to be alone!

A trauma-informed approach can guide therapy to help clients see these critical or isolating parts from a new angle. By exploring them, instead of rejecting them, the self-understanding and compassion needed for friendships and relationships can grow stronger. Therapy can be a truly emotionally corrective relationship, where the client learns that having a witness accept their feelings and history allows them to feel safer than ever before!

Trauma creates an urgent need to protect. To a person with a trauma history, a barrier to connection is like a life preserver,

 » Read more about: 3 Concepts to Help Trauma Survivors Move Forward Into Healthier Relationships  »

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Robyn Brickel, M.A., LMFT posted:
Teri Wellbrock posted:

Two concepts mentioned had a tremendous impact on my healing journey: curiosity and learning to ask for help. Once I started to be curious about my triggers, symptoms, and trauma history . . . instead of terrified of it all . . . I began to seek solutions and opened myself up to the possibility of healing. By embracing my trauma and its impact on me, I was able to put it out there in lieu of hiding it. This gave me opportunities to ask for help when I would normally curl into a ball (sometimes literally) in order to survive a moment of panic.

Thanks for this insightful article. From a survivor, it speaks volumes of truth. 

Peace,

Teri

www.teriwellbrock.com

P.S. I am currently reading Lisa Ferentz's "Finding Your Ruby Slippers" . . . a book gifted to me by Lisa herself when I opened for her as a speaker at a trauma conference last fall. What an incredibly gifted presenter she is! 

Hi Teri.  Thank you for sharing your story and growth with me.  I am so glad to hear of your growth and healing through a trauma lens.  Wishing you continued health!

Take care.

Robyn

PS... Lisa's book is great!  She is a gifted presenter and amazing friend!  I am so glad to hear you have met her and she gifted you her book around growth and healing!  Take good care!

That's so cool! I thoroughly enjoyed her presentation (although I admittedly cried a few times as it touched me on a soul level). If you talk to her any time soon, tell her Teri from the Tristate Trauma Network fall conference in Cincinnati says, "hi".

Peace,

Teri

I just wanted to first say a huge thank you and send a “bear sized” hug to Carey, Jane, Cissy, Gail and all the other fabulous team members at ACES Connection❤️

As far as the above post, I agree and so do the 40 women and men I’ve spoken with as part of Conversations that Matter.  I’ve learned that the key factor in creating a safe, nonjudgmental space is somebody has to be vulnerable and share their shame first!

Whenever we share it gives the other person permission to open up without fear of being judged. That’s what Living Life with H.E.A.R.T. Is all about! It’s a program to teach parents and school aged children/teens how to live each day with honesty, empathy, acceptance, relatability and trust. It sounds so basic but somewhere along the way (related to old hurt) many people have lost the Art of Being Human; not only towards others but towards ourselves! 

Us health care professionals have to remind ourselves that “Self Love and Self Care Starts with Our Story”...and I mean “our”!

much love and gratitude, Leslie

Teri Wellbrock posted:

Two concepts mentioned had a tremendous impact on my healing journey: curiosity and learning to ask for help. Once I started to be curious about my triggers, symptoms, and trauma history . . . instead of terrified of it all . . . I began to seek solutions and opened myself up to the possibility of healing. By embracing my trauma and its impact on me, I was able to put it out there in lieu of hiding it. This gave me opportunities to ask for help when I would normally curl into a ball (sometimes literally) in order to survive a moment of panic.

Thanks for this insightful article. From a survivor, it speaks volumes of truth. 

Peace,

Teri

www.teriwellbrock.com

P.S. I am currently reading Lisa Ferentz's "Finding Your Ruby Slippers" . . . a book gifted to me by Lisa herself when I opened for her as a speaker at a trauma conference last fall. What an incredibly gifted presenter she is! 

Hi Teri.  Thank you for sharing your story and growth with me.  I am so glad to hear of your growth and healing through a trauma lens.  Wishing you continued health!

Take care.

Robyn

PS... Lisa's book is great!  She is a gifted presenter and amazing friend!  I am so glad to hear you have met her and she gifted you her book around growth and healing!  Take good care!

Two concepts mentioned had a tremendous impact on my healing journey: curiosity and learning to ask for help. Once I started to be curious about my triggers, symptoms, and trauma history . . . instead of terrified of it all . . . I began to seek solutions and opened myself up to the possibility of healing. By embracing my trauma and its impact on me, I was able to put it out there in lieu of hiding it. This gave me opportunities to ask for help when I would normally curl into a ball (sometimes literally) in order to survive a moment of panic.

Thanks for this insightful article. From a survivor, it speaks volumes of truth. 

Peace,

Teri

www.teriwellbrock.com

P.S. I am currently reading Lisa Ferentz's "Finding Your Ruby Slippers" . . . a book gifted to me by Lisa herself when I opened for her as a speaker at a trauma conference last fall. What an incredibly gifted presenter she is! 

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