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Understanding Trauma

by Hale Dwoskin

Up to 40 percent of Americans will be exposed to a traumatic event during their lifetimes, according to the America Psychiatric Association. Some people are able to go through such a trauma — a natural disaster, mass violence, a terrorist attack, war, or other traumatic accident — without developing significant psychological symptoms. For many, however, the incident can take a major emotional toll, leading to:

  • Depression
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Fear and anxiety
  • Survivor’s guilt
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares or flashbacks

For the person living with a trauma victim, these understandable emotional hurdles can cause significant strain on your personal relationship if not handled with care and sensitivity. As a bystander, you may have trouble understanding trauma and the mood swings that a trauma victim can experience. Or you may want to “fix” the problem when what’s really needed is more time.

How to Best Support a Trauma Victim

It can take weeks, months and even years for a survivor of a trauma to feel they have regained control over their life, and to be able to put the trauma behind them. One of the biggest challenges that you may face in caring for this person is the frustration of not being able to do enough. This is where The Sedona Method can help you to release this anxiety you feel.

The best ways to help someone who has experienced trauma is to let go of wanting to control their experience and at the same time love, support and be there for them as they go through their process. Sometimes all they really need to start to heal is to have someone truly care, accept them, and be there for them exactly as they are.

You can do this by:

  • Being a supportive, non-judgmental listener whenever the person needs to talk
  • Encourage healthy ways to cope with stress, such as exercising and relaxation, while discouraging unhealthy methods, such as using alcohol or drugs
  • Not offering advice or ways to “fix” the problem

You must also take care to resolve your own emotional response to their trauma, as you may also feel sadness, guilt, anxiety and a range of other emotions.

It is important that you release any feelings their trauma brings up inside of you. Otherwise, you simply join them in
the spin.

-Hale