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Three Stages of Trauma Healing

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”

~ Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

If you have experienced "small t" or "Big T" trauma in your life, it is helpful to know that there is a prioritized order to your emotional healing process. These three stages are elucidated by psychiatrist Judith Herman’s three stages of recovery in her book "Trauma and Recovery".

Stage 1: Safety and Stabilization

The first stage of therapy does not involve processing your painful experiences. First, it is important to discuss a ‘road map’ for your healing process, so you have a good sense of the inner work that is ahead of you.

You will have to build up your strength of presence and your ability to stay reasonably regulated before you can safely process painful emotions. Stage-one goals aim to cultivate feelings of calm and safety, and also practice regular self-care so that you can better regulate your emotions.

Healing tasks at this stage include:

~ Becoming intimate with your nervous system and learning how to reasonably regulate your emotions in order to calm excessive fear, anger and overwhelm.

~ Establishing a feeling of safety and stability in your body, your relationships, and your life.

~ Starting a new meditation practice or initiating self-care routines that help you feel safe, stable and calm.

~ Recognizing and developing your inner strengths, and accessing available resources for your healing journey ahead.

Stage 2: Remembrance and Mourning

After developing a strong sense of personal safety and stability, you can move on to stage two. Stage two of trauma recovery works aims to access, address and relate to painful memories in a more empowered way.

Healing tasks at this stage include:

~ Connecting to and "reassociating" with painful memories as they come up with love, presence and compassion.

~ Acknowledging the detrimental impact that painful incidents have had on your life.

~ Mourning and releasing the losses associated with past trauma.

~ Accessing and amplifying the power you have now to heal the helplessness you felt in the past.

Stage 3: Reconnection and Integration

The third stage of trauma recovery focuses on the reinvention of yourself as a healed and whole person and the visioning of a bright, hopeful future.

Healing tasks at this stage include:

~ Feeling integrated, whole and inclusive of all parts of yourself.

~ Living more of your life in the present moment.

~ Experiencing that past trauma no longer has such power over you.

~ Venturing beyond your personal world to connect with other people and to engage in meaningful activities.

~ Noticing how the profound level of strength that you have cultivated in your healing journey enables you to become a powerful force for good.

With much love,



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