What do trauma survivors need?

Support for trauma survivors must be neuroscience-based, somatically oriented, patient-centered, non-shaming, non-pathologizing, individually tailored, strengths-based, resilience-building, resource-building, and a support system rather than a treatment program or even a curriculum.
Survivors need a smorgasbord of support that helps people find the type of care they need and respects their agency foremost. Options, not directions. Firstly, we need to learn to read what the body says, have the courage to listen and have the strength and resources to locate and receive the support needed. Biopsychosocial, narrative, integrative, and lifestyle medicine are good fits. Trauma-Informed Care is a must!

We need information, resources, connection, safety, and people who can be compassionate witnesses. We need to know the science and at least some of the options for various potentially healing avenues that actually heal the body-brain as shown by science. No pathologizing or retraumatizing by being prompted to retell the story repeatedly without any resolution, discharge from the nervous system, or even a sense of connection or safety.

We don’t need to be told what to do! Support must be offered in ways that validate and protect each individual’s autonomy and use of resources as they are inclined without any obligation to do otherwise or any implication they are insufficient if they don’t perform or measure up in a certain way. Everybody has to be able to come at this with whatever they have. Most people aren’t going to be able to come at it like I have but maybe with the ideas laid out and the resources near they can far more readily discover for themselves what their body needs for their healing. That is the keystone, the ability to tune into the body and recognize what it says it needs and likes, and do those things. Not unhealthy “likes,” such as with addiction, but what our body likes because it builds a sense of well-being inside.

We need to learn how to be in our body, to listen, and to build the courage to honor our body’s needs, likes, and desires. We need to integrate the learning into daily practices that help tune the nervous system away from threat detection and protection and toward safety and connection.

We need to be able to safely connect with our inner world and with others and access to resources. We need to build the ability to titrate, pendulate, tolerate, and integrate. These help with adjusting to the new activation level and embodiment that come with integration.

[I didn’t include addiction because I haven’t faced it firsthand and because Dr. Gabor Mate says addiction is rooted in Developmental Trauma.]

DISCLAIMER: This is not medical, psychological, pharmaceutical, or legal advice. The contents of this site represent Shay Seaborne, CPTSD’s lived experience and understanding of the neurobiology of trauma through study and experiences. For medical, psychological, pharmaceutical, or legal advice, consult a licensed practitioner.