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The Power of Community in Trauma Survivorship

The Power of Community in Trauma Survivorship

Consistent across human history has been the importance of community. Safety in numbers against a predator, the sharing of resources, or simply holding space for one another are all integral to our survival. Yet, largely, our individualistic culture places emphasis on autonomy and independence. Self-care is a term used often within the context of therapy and trauma healing – and self-care is a necessary step – but often we are encouraged to lean into individual healing practices when what we need is to be reminded that we belong in the world around us.
Oftentimes we walk away from a traumatic experience with more barriers to accessing ourselves than ever before. We learn to mistrust ourselves and/or those around us; shame and guilt become the forefront of our self-talk; our emotions feel too dangerous to foray into. It is confusing to be told to access self for care when, commonly, self is difficult to find internally. Research tells us that connection to others leads to positive outcomes for trauma survivors (Goodman, Dutton, Vankos, & Weinfurt, 2005), and it tells us that even brief interactions with the world around (waving hello, for example) us are reliable mood-boosters (Santos, 2023).
So what does community care look like, and how can we engage in this type of inter-dependence on one another?

Community care at the micro level:

  1. Saying hello to a neighbor
  2. Meal prepping/cooking with a loved one
  3. Texting a friend
  4. Carpooling with a friend or colleague
  5. Checking in with your loved ones




Community care at the macro level:

  1. Participating in a community garden
  2. Community clothing swaps
  3. Group therapy spaces for processing and healing
  4. Volunteering for a cause you care about
  5. Community book clubs
  6. Participating in social activism
A reminder, too, that community care works when you receive care alongside providing it. Trauma recovery makes it difficult to remember that you, as much as your neighbor, are part of this community. Not every type of community care will be a fit for you, and that’s okay. Wherever you land, you are not alone. Healing takes place in the company of those who see and are seen by you.

From Pain to Power: The Narrative Trauma Therapy Experience

From Pain to Power: The Narrative Trauma Therapy Experience

In the journey of healing from trauma, the power of storytelling is often underestimated. Yet, within the realm of mental health counseling, narrative trauma therapy stands as a profound method for fostering healing and resilience. By harnessing the narrative of one’s experiences, this therapeutic approach offers a pathway towards understanding, processing, and ultimately transforming trauma’s impact on one’s life.


Understanding Narrative Trauma Therapy

At its core, narrative trauma therapy is rooted in the belief that our experiences are shaped by the stories we tell ourselves. Trauma, whether stemming from childhood adversities, abuse, or other distressing events, can often disrupt these narratives, leaving individuals feeling fragmented, powerless, and stuck in a cycle of pain.

Through narrative trauma therapy, clients are invited to explore their past experiences within a safe and supportive environment. Guided by a trained therapist, clients embark on a journey of self-discovery, gradually unraveling the threads of their personal narratives. By revisiting and reshaping these narratives, individuals can reclaim agency over their stories, ultimately fostering healing and empowerment.


What to Expect in Narrative Trauma Therapy

During narrative trauma therapy sessions, clients can expect a collaborative and client-centered approach. Therapists work alongside clients, providing compassionate guidance and support as they navigate their unique healing journey.

  1. Exploration of Personal Narratives: Clients are encouraged to explore and articulate their experiences, emotions, and beliefs within the context of their personal narratives. Through techniques such as storytelling, journaling, and guided reflection, individuals gain insight into the ways trauma has impacted their lives.
  2. Identification of Negative Thought Patterns: Within the narrative therapy framework, emphasis is placed on recognizing and challenging negative thought patterns perpetuated by trauma. By identifying and reframing these beliefs, clients can cultivate a more compassionate and empowering self-narrative.
  3. Integration and Meaning-Making: Through the process of storytelling and reflection, clients begin to integrate their experiences into a coherent narrative framework. This process facilitates meaning-making and enables individuals to construct new narratives that honor their resilience and strength.
  4. Skill-Building and Coping Strategies: Narrative trauma therapy equips clients with practical coping strategies and resilience-building techniques to navigate future challenges. By fostering a sense of agency and self-efficacy, individuals develop the skills necessary to cope with adversity and cultivate a sense of empowerment.


Who Can Benefit from Narrative Trauma Therapy?

Narrative trauma therapy is a versatile approach that can benefit individuals grappling with various forms of trauma, including:

  • Childhood Trauma Survivors: Adults who experienced adverse childhood experiences, such as abuse, neglect, or household dysfunction, can find healing through narrative trauma therapy.
  • Survivors of Abuse or Assault: Those who have experienced physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, as well as survivors of assault or violence, can benefit from exploring and reframing their narratives.
  • Individuals with PTSD: Narrative trauma therapy can be particularly beneficial for individuals diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), offering a holistic approach to healing and recovery.


Changing Negative Thought Patterns

Narrative trauma therapy serves as a powerful tool for challenging and transforming negative thought patterns perpetuated by trauma. Here are some examples of negative thoughts that narrative trauma therapy can help change:

  1. “I’m to blame for what happened.”: Many trauma survivors grapple with feelings of guilt and self-blame. Narrative therapy helps individuals reframe these beliefs, recognizing that responsibility lies with the perpetrator, not the victim.
  2. “I’ll never be able to trust anyone again.”: Trauma can erode trust in others and the world at large. Through narrative therapy, individuals can explore their beliefs about trust, challenge distorted perceptions, and cultivate healthier relationship dynamics.
  3. “I’m broken beyond repair.”: Feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness are common among trauma survivors. Narrative trauma therapy emphasizes resilience and strength, helping individuals recognize their inherent worth and capacity for healing.


In conclusion, narrative trauma therapy offers a transformative approach to healing from trauma by harnessing the power of storytelling. Through exploration, reflection, and reframing, individuals can reclaim agency over their narratives, fostering resilience and empowerment in the face of adversity.

If you’re looking for a narrative therapy specialist, Nhu An Lam, LMHC and Ellen Bass, LMHCA are available to help! Contact us to schedule an appointment today.