Below are links to useful resources for understanding trauma, its impacts, and perspectives on healing and growth. Bear in mind, however, that our current understanding is incomplete; research and therapeutic practices are constantly evolving.
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What is Trauma?
Depending on who you talk to, there may be different answers, but this is a general definition from The Center for Treatment of Mood and Anxiety Disorders: "Trauma can be defined as a psychological, emotional response to an event or an experience that is deeply distressing or disturbing." Losing a job or loved one, witnessing and/or experiencing divorce, violence, poverty, illness and more can be traumatic.
What is Post-Traumatic Growth?
According to the Posttraumatic Research Group at UNC Charlotte, it is "positive change experienced as a result of the struggle with a major life crisis or a traumatic event."
Read Prof. Richard Tedeschi's July 2020 article, "Growth after Trauma", in Harvard Business Review here:
"We’ve learned that negative experiences can spur positive change, including a recognition of personal strength, the exploration of new possibilities, improved relationships, a greater appreciation for life, and spiritual growth.
Although posttraumatic growth often happens naturally, without psychotherapy or other formal intervention, it can be facilitated in five ways: through education, emotional regulation, disclosure, narrative development, and service."
What Does It Mean to Be Trauma-Informed?
In a nutshell, trauma sensitive practices provide a sense of safety, trust, transparency, peer support, collaboration, empowerment, choice, and take into account cultural, historical, and gender issues. Read more here.
For a more detailed read, download "SAMHSA's Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach" by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Vulnerability is the Seed of Courage and Compassion
Nothing makes us feel more vulnerable than trauma. Brené Brown is the high priestess of vulnerability, showing us how to embrace it for deeper connections and stronger relationships. Check out the most-watched TED Talk: The Power of Vulnerability. Or watch Brené Brown: The Call to Courage on Netflix (excepts here).
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) and Resilience
Check out this TED Talk by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris' talk on "How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime"
Find out what your ACE score is by taking the quiz and find out what is does and does not mean according to Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. Then be sure to follow-on with their series on resilience here.
Health Benefits of Writing
Prof. James. W. Pennebaker is one of the foremost researchers into the mental and health benefits of writing. Pennebaker Language Lab looks into what the words we use reveal about "our emotions, personalities, motivations, and other parts of our mental universes".
His publications include:
"Expressive Writing: Words that Heal" (2014)
"Expressive Writing: Connections to Physical & Mental Health" (2007) Download article
R.A.I.N.: A Toolbox for Coping With Difficult Emotions
It's hard to see our situation clearly or make decisions in our own best interests when we are swirling in a storm of emotions. Tara Brach offers a great 4-step tool for befriending our emotions:
Recognize What's Going On
Allow the Experience
Investigate with Interest and Care
Nurture with Self-Compassion