Trauma can have a profound, even devastating impact on an individual. Often, the responses traumatized individuals exhibit are pathologized. They are viewed as needing “treatment” and are identified as "sick" or “disturbed.” The truth is, the responses to trauma are normal responses given the extreme nature of their situation. Pathologizing the person or seeing the person as a problem hinders the successful integration of the trauma memories into their overall life story. We must recognize these responses are normal for their experience and are based on real physiological and emotional reactions in the body and mind of the individual to a traumatic event.
If trauma survivors normalize their responses to trauma, it increases the likelihood the individual will be open to explore their experiences, which in turn increases the opportunity for the individual to give language to their trauma. If they can give language to their trauma, they can begin the process of including the traumatic experience into their overall life story. The brain systems that handle self-awareness can begin to alter the bodily responses that feel so out of control and out of context. Finally, the individual can begin to rediscover their identity through giving language to their inner reality.
Helping individuals who have gone through trauma understand their responses are normal, and they are not alone in experiencing these responses, can help open the doors to the process of healing.
Dr. Donna E. Lane is a Christian Counselor who specializes in trauma, grief, and loss, along with the depression and anxiety often resulting from these experiences. She has been a counselor since 1979, and has owned her practice since 1993. She is co-author of the internationally-acclaimed trauma treatment resource, Trauma Narrative Treatment, and the accompanying story, Gold Stone. She is also the co-author of Strength in Adversity, a Biblical study on walking through difficulty with Christ.