Healing and Resilience

People can and do recover from complex trauma

 

People who have experienced complex trauma, including from childhood, can live full and constructive lives. Some people who experience complex trauma live fulfilling lives from the time of the trauma, while others face different barriers to full participation at different times. Some function well but struggle to live fully in the present.

Many survivors do come to thrive and enjoy a feeling of wholeness, satisfaction in life and work, and genuine love and trust in relationships. Relationships are very important for recovery. Healthy relationships of connection and support help people recover from trauma and promote well-being. They also help overcome the isolation, alienation and loneliness many survivors experience.

Rochelle Taylor survivor

Strengths

While trauma can have lots of impacts, survivors show a lot of strength in surviving, and resilience in recovery. Recognising these strengths and building on them is an ongoing process. This includes using different coping strategies and finding creative ways to meet needs and express them. At times however it can be a struggle to function. When this happens, it is important to acknowledge that ‘good enough’ functioning is an achievement itself.

Advances in neuroscience tell us about the plasticity of the brain – the capacity of the brain to repair and heal. This can occur right through life and provides a scientific basis for hope and optimism around recovery.

Resilience

Survivors often show a great deal of resilience on their recovery journey. Resilience means the capacity to respond to life stress, challenges, and additional trauma. Many survivors do calm their bodies and reactions and process their trauma and come to terms with it. They ‘work through’ their traumatic experience so that it is no longer overwhelming. Research shows that it is possible for trauma to be resolved and for people to heal.

Post Traumatic Growth

In fact, it is possible to develop beyond recovery. Post traumatic growth is the positive change, in which a person develops greater inner strength as a result of their journey through trauma. The recovery journey can transform a person’s reactions, their world view and their response to future stress and adversity. When a person experiences post-traumatic growth, they appreciate their life more fully, build on their inner strengths and acknowledge them as well forge deeper relationships and plan more for a fulfilled future (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 2004). If you are a survivor or are supporting a survivor, the concept of post traumatic growth may seem unachievable at the moment but knowing that it is possible can also be empowering.

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Coping Strategies, Impacts and Healing