Anyone who has experienced trauma or suffers from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) wants to recover and move forward. So do their families, their friends, and their health care providers. However, despite what many might think, recovery won’t completely “free” people with trauma from all post-traumatic effects. Like with addiction, trauma recovery is an individual experience that will be different for everyone. Generally, successful trauma recovery is thought of as living in the present without being haunted by the past.
Judith Lewis Herman, a psychiatrist and a professor of clinical psychiatry at Harvard University Medical School, is perhaps most famous for her contributions to the study trauma and the expansion of trauma treatments. Many healthcare professionals hail her second book, Trauma and Recovery, as one of the best classic studies of PTSD. This book details the complex healing process of individuals who suffer from PTSD, broken down into three distinct stages of trauma recovery.
There are several main objectives for the patient during stage one of trauma recovery. These include:
Once the patient successfully completes these objectives, she will be able to work through painful memories in the following stages of trauma therapy with less mental and emotional difficulty.
Once the patient has developed a stronger sense of overall functionality and safety, she can move on to stage two. Stage two of trauma recovery works to address any painful and/or repressed memories that the patient may have and does so within a judgment-free, therapeutic setting. The main objectives for the patient in the second stage of trauma recovery include:
There are certain misconceptions about this step in the trauma recovery process that should be addressed. Stage two may not force the patient to relive the trauma. And the patient isn’t expected to deliver his or her story with no emotions, either. Stage two of trauma recovery may be analytical, but it isn’t robotic or unfeeling. This is why pacing and timing are so crucial during this particular stage. If the patient in therapy becomes overwhelmed by talking about the traumatic memories, then the sense of safety and stability she built in stage one is rendered moot. In a sense, rushing or botching stage two of trauma recovery will bring the patient and the therapist back to square one.
The third and final stage of trauma recovery focuses on the patient’s reinvention of the self and establishment of a bright, hopeful future. By this stage, the trauma no longer has power over or defines the patient’s life. Trauma, after all, is only part of a much larger picture; it may be part of the patient’s life story but it’s certainly not the only part. By the end of stage three, the patient recognizes the impact of the trauma but are now ready to leave it in the past in the pursuit of empowerment and living in the present.
While trauma recovery doesn’t promise complete freedom from intrusive thoughts or feelings of the past, it does guarantee that anyone can reclaim a life filled with love, contentment, security, and liberation. At Willow Place, our team wants to help you reclaim your life. If you or someone you care about suffers from PTSD or another trauma-related ailment and is seeking recovery, contact us on our website or call us today at 1-888-651-4212.