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Affiliation: Protection Against Trauma

Emotional attachment is the primary protection against being traumatized: people have always gathered in communities and organizations to help them deal with outside challenges: we seek close emotional relationships with others in order to help us anticipate, meet and integrate difficult experiences. Contemporary research has shown that as long as the social support network remains intact, people are relatively well protected against even catastrophic stresses. For young children, the family usually is a very effective source of protection against traumatization, and most children are amazingly resilient as long as they have a caregiverwho is emotionally and physically available. Mature people also rely on their families, colleagues and friends to provide such a trauma membrane. 

Must Include Careful Preparation

In the treatment of simple cases of PTSD, it is perhaps possible to move quickly, to activating the traumatic memory. In more complex cases, it should be part of a more encompassing treatment model, with an eye on providing the patient with a capacity to feel safe while accessing traumatic material. For the past century, psychotherapeutic clinicians have basically adopted a phase-oriented model that consists of (1) reintegration and rehabilitation. In the first phase the foundation is laid that enables patient to deal with the challenge of confronting the trauma. The patient is helped with establishing more stability and safety in daily life, including social support, stress inoculation, ways of controlling symptoms and ways of containing intrusive memories. Psychopharmacological management often is an integral part of stabilization.



Core of New Gratifying Experiences

Considering the fact that the central psychological preoccupation of traumatized people is either the reliving or the warding off of the memory of the trauma, there is little room for new, gratifying experiences which might allow for reparation of past injuries to the self. Patients need to actively expose themselves to experiences that provide them with feelings of mastery and pleasure. Engagement in physical activities, such as sports or wilderness ventures, gratifying physical experiences, such as massages, or artistic accomplishments may be experiences that patients build up that are not contaminated by the trauma.

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