Tips for Survivors of a Traumatic Event

By Brynna Pawlows

You’ve survived a traumatic event. Whether this involves a natural disaster, a personal relationship, or a similarly impactful crisis, there are a few steps one can take to start healing from trauma.

Safety and Resource Inventory

When we talk about safety, we are considering one’s physical, mental, and emotional well being. Can you get out of danger’s way? What resources help achieve safety? Resources can look like: a friend or loved one, emergency services, the internet, shelters, a vehicle, a therapist, etc.

If you are struggling to identify resources, utilizing a crisis hotline will help you establish a safety plan. If calling may impact your safety, you can utilize the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741 to speak with a trained counselor 24/7.

Once you have established safety and resources, it’s time to do a symptom inventory.

Symptom Inventory

Identify what your symptoms are on a physical, emotional, and cognitive level. Do you have unusual physical pain? Are you experiencing panic attacks? Are you suddenly hopeless? Do you feel highly distracted? Is it difficult to remember things? It is important to seek medical help to rule out a physiological prognosis for your symptoms. For example, if your trauma involved a physical altercation, lack of focus could be attributed to an injury that requires medical intervention.

Identifying symptoms can also aid in psychological assessment and subsequent treatment.

Finding the Right Therapist

There are many therapists that are competent in trauma treatment, but how do you know which one is right for you? You can filter websites like Psychology Today to only include therapists who treat trauma. If you find an individual or group practice that does so, ask if they provide consultation calls. If possible, prepare your questions ahead of time. Many practices like Park Avenue Psychotherapy provide consultations at zero cost!

If you are already connected to a therapist that does not treat trauma, it is okay to request referrals for a professional with more specialized training and knowledge. Additionally, you can sign a release form to allow your therapist to communicate current diagnosis and treatment goals with your next mental health professional.

Begin Healing

Healing looks different for everyone. By establishing safety, resources, symptoms, and healthcare interventions, you are ready to start your journey and begin healing from trauma!