If you’re lucky, then you’re never going to encounter a single traumatic experience in your life. If you’re lucky, you won’t encounter the emotionally and mentally scarring experiences that have left some people scarred and unable to really interact with the world around them. The emotional and mental health consequences of surviving psychological trauma can become lifelong scars, forever leaving a mark on the victim’s psyche. The road to recovery is fraught with dangers, as recovering from trauma requires a person to recall the trauma. For most, the emotional healing after a traumatic experience can often be as painful as the traumatic event itself.
Helping someone overcome trauma is a difficult process, with a number of factors to be considered. As with any event of this sort, the time frame between the event itself and the start of treatment can play a role in how effective it is. The acceptance of the person of how the trauma has affected them can also play a factor in the emotional healing process, as some patients can develop violent tendencies when confronted with memories that they would rather keep to themselves. Mental health can also be a key factor, as some traumatic experiences can leave the victim’s grasp on reality lacking, making treatment of the experience impossible until the side effect of it has been dealt with. Any combination of factors makes treating trauma a difficult task, as well as one that can be a long and arduous process.
The first task in recovering from trauma involves getting the mind back to working order. The human mind is a delicate computer system, one that is prone to shutting itself down if the processor is over-clocked and there is too much information coming in. The mind shuts itself down, with decision-making abilities, thought processes, and creative thoughts simply running dry. The effects of trauma also manifest physically, as the body begins to run solely on the basic functions needed for continued survival. In some extremes, even previously prominent physical problems such as acne and chronic pain disappear. Helping a person’s mind jump start after a traumatic experience is the first step to helping them adjust to the event and put their social life and mental health back together.
The next step involves helping a person deal with the return of their normal emotions, as well as helping them re-learn how to cope with emotional stimulation. This step also covers what might be the most painful part of therapy for a trauma survivor: facing the trauma. For people to truly move past an event that has traumatized them, the problem has to be faced, processed, dealt with, and accepted. Repairs on a person’s mental health and the process of emotional healing cannot truly begin if the person has not yet dealt with the trauma for themselves and found their own way through it. Facing the problem can often stimulate the mind to accept emotional stimuli again, slowly helping them get back on track after the destruction they’ve endured. However, this step is best taken slowly, as the mind is still in a delicate state at this stage and the emotional toll of brashly forcing someone to face the event can result in more harm than good.
The third crucial step is to help the person establish a feeling of control over her life once again, as trauma often leaves one feeling vulnerable and incapable of any sort of control. Trauma leaves people with an acute loss of control over their lives, and that has to be worked through. Doing tasks that help a person deal with the trauma are extremely helpful in this situation, as it helps them adjust to the damage done to their lives. More often than not, what returns a person’s sense of control are the little things, small actions that they used to do and take for granted before the event. These things help develop a sense of familiarity and safety, which can be used as a framework for slowly getting them back on their feet socially and professionally. This, combined with a slowly renewing ability to process emotions, can be the forward thrust a person needs to fully recover their mental health and emotional well-being.
The final stage is reintegration and reintroduction, both into society and into one’s self. This is the final stage because everything else, all the clutter and the damage, has to be cleared first before a person can even begin to think about getting back to how their lives were before being traumatized. Only once the person feels ready to try and get back into a normal life can this stage be attempted, as trauma can often be a very personal experience, which makes recovery very personal as well. Forcing someone to reintegrate into a normal life too quickly can often be as traumatizing to an already damaged state of mental health as the initial trauma was.