Healing Trauma Through Relationships

How do people get over trauma? Why can some people seem to get over it and some don’t? Negative changes in mood, negative cognitions, detachment, numbing, and hyper-vigilance lasting more than one month are typically symptomatic of trauma. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) treatment and Prolonged Exposure therapy defined by Edna Foa can help prevent relapse and give perspective to trauma. Trauma informed care should begin by having an understanding of the impact of trauma; knowing the symptoms; avoids re-traumatizing; and integrates knowledge of trauma into the treatment.

Relationship problems are an integral part of having experienced trauma, so relationship therapy is crucial to trauma survivors. Trauma treatments have largely ignored the interpersonal symptoms of PTSD. Whether caused by early abandonment, child abuse, military combat, rape, or other traumatic experiences, the impact of trauma on committed relationships is becoming more of a focus in research and practice.

If you have noticed repeating patterns in your love relationship, even with different partners, then it may help to become familiar with and understand the different styles of attachment. A child is dependent on their caregivers for emotional and physical needs. Consequently, your relationship with your first caregivers have a significant influence on future intimate relationships. Based on how needs were met, a certain style of attachment will form, although it may not always necessarily be a 100% fit into a single category. Disorganized attachment style is typically an outcome of abuse and trauma. As a result, the drive to attach competes with the instinct to fight, flee, freeze, or submit. In turn, this makes romantic relationships confusing by alternating between vying for attention and pushing people away. Intimate relationships can become incredibly hard to form and maintain.

If your partner is currently experiencing, or has experienced trauma, it is important to see the person behind the behavior. Spend time getting to know each other’s stories and focus on validating each other’s feelings of the experiences with empathy to create security in the relationship.

Richard Tedeski’s theory on Posttraumatic Growth explains a kind of positive transformation following trauma. People will develop a new understanding of themselves and how to relate to other people. They begin to see a future and will have a better understanding of how to live life. Healing trauma through an intimate relationship takes awareness, courage, and patience. The quality of your relationship has an effect on your overall well-being, so a good relationship can be helpful in healing trauma. Partners who can safely share traumatic stories with one another are better able to truly know and understand each other. Without the knowledge of each other’s histories, criticism and contempt can potentially pervade the relationship. Focus on shaping the relationship by creating shared meanings and by discussing how to overcome trauma together.

For more information on how to build a healthy relationship while dealing with trauma, please contact Mel Brezovsky directly by clicking here or calling 703-662-9559.