This is the first pamphlet in the TRT Educational Program. The pamphlet number is:
Why Focus On Trauma?
Most people who are entering the TRT program ask:
“What does trauma have to do with me?”
To answer this question we have prepared a variety of informational materials. This pamphlet is the first of those materials.
The Effects of Trauma
We focus on trauma for a very important reason. New clients often report having experienced considerable uncertainty and much confusion about their situation. Usually, substantial emotional pain has preceded their decision to seek help. We have learned that these experiences are often indicators of psychological trauma.
We also know, from having worked with many such people, that if trauma has occurred, then three additional things have usually happened. First, most people have become partially or totally unaware of the trauma and its effects. Thus the trauma is usually minimized or made light of. Second, otherwise normal problem-solving abilities are impaired without the person’s knowledge. One indicator of such impairment is continuing hurt. Another is increased feelings of loss of control of relationships or, in more difficult instances, everyday life management processes. Third, the trauma distorts the person’s self perspectives. Examples of such distortions are inappropriate self-blame and the belief that the person has brought the difficult experiences on him or herself.
What Do We Mean by “Trauma?”
When most people think of trauma, they think of automobile accidents, war or meteorological catastrophes such as floods that involve serious bodily injury. Indeed an entire medical specialty addresses such physical damage. However, trauma also has a less visible psychological component.
Attempts to explain, describe or define these psychological aspects of trauma have generally focused on the shock caused by a dramatically intrusive experience. Our definition of trauma is somewhat broader: we use the word “trauma” to represent not only shock from the trauma causing event, but also the emotional pain and loss that has resulted from the experience. From this definition trauma can be seen to have many different causes. Aside from war, accidents or catastrophies, trauma can also result from disease, crime, ajob that is crisis oriented, a physical addiction to drugs or a relationship with people so affected.
Post Traumatic Stress
Regrettably, in the past the trauma from such difficult experiences was not readily recognized – thus the accompanying emotional pain and loss may not have been addressed. Where such hurt is left alone and the person suffering it is not given proper care, the hurt often results in what many professionals are beginning to recognize as post traumatic stress.
Resolution and Reconciliation
When ”’we speak of “resolving” trauma or “reconciling” loss, we are describing the process through which the trauma and its effects are ended. For some people, resolution or reconciliation means becoming less hurt and thus less influenced by the trauma-causing event(s). For others, resolution and reconciliation means understanding the loss resulting from the trauma, accepting it, and integrating it into the individual’s current life. Regardless of which meaning is used, a common denominator for most is that those who have resolved trauma are able to distinguish between who they are as people, as different from what happened to them after having been affected by the traumatic experience. As you progress toward
completion of the program, the concepts of resolution and reconciliation will have their own meaning to you.
What TRT Does
TRT’s goals are very simple: to help you to resolve any trauma to which you have been ex- posed, and in the process regain or reclaim any personal identity lost as a result of the trauma. TRT does not try to change you. Our observations of most TRT participants have shown that as trauma and its accompanying post traumatic stress experience are identified and then resolved, those participants prove to be inherently capable of not only solving their own problems, but also of deciding on their own life changes without a great deal of further outside assistance.
Who are the Pamphlets For?
The educational materials are written primarily for the individual who is participating in the TRT program under the supervision of a TRT counselor. In addition, the material is intended to provide program information for friends and family members who comprise the participant’s system of support outside of TRT. We have found that when supporting friends and family members understand the process of trauma resolution through TRT, they have considerably
more empathy for the therapeutic experience of TRT participants than when that understanding is not present.
Some Advice at the Beginning
- As you begin the TRT pamphlet series and then eventually TRT itself, we make two recommendations. We ask that you read these recommendations very carefully and agree to follow them, as they are very important to the successful completion of the TR T experience.
- TRT is not a self help program. Please do not attempt to do TRT by yourself without the assistance of a TRT counselor.
- Always follow the direction of the TRT counselor first and use the educational materials as a supporting guide or workbook. The pamphlets are written only to assist the TRT counselor in helping you, not to replace the counselor.
Proceeding Through TRT
Although there are patterns in the way people reconcile hurt and loss, each person’s progression through the reconciliation / resolution process is unique. Therefore your experience in TRT, although probably similar in many respects to
others’ progressions, may also be quite different. In other words, it is not necessary or recommended that you keep pace with, or go through TRT like, other TRT participants. It is only important that your progress be made as is appropriate for you and in conjunction with your counselor’s recommendations and assistance.
TRT is a specialized education and therapy program that assist your counselor in helping you.