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As a therapist, it can be difficult to know what to do when your client says “it’s not that bad.” After all, you may already be seeing the effects of complex trauma on their mental health and relationships and want to help your client heal and move on from trauma. Minimized or invalidated trauma is often just as damaging to mental and physical wellbeing and any other form of trauma.
In this blog post, we’ll explore what to do when your client minimizes their trauma in therapy. By understanding the dynamics of minimized and/or invalidated traumatic experiences, you can help your clients heal and move forward in their lives. Thank you for reading!
It’s important to validate your client’s feelings and experiences
When supporting clients in the therapeutic relationship, it is essential to meet clients where they are and to validate their experiences. By validating their feelings, you create a supportive space for them to freely express themselves and work through their challenges.
This is especially important for those who have experienced complex trauma, as avoidance has sometimes been used by them as a survival response. Validation helps foster the underlying trust they need in order to begin the healing process, so approaching conversations with an open-minded attitude and being attentive to your clients’ emotions can have positive effects that extend throughout the therapy journey.
Help them understand that their reactions are normal and natural
Trauma can affect us in many ways, and the reactions which arise in response to trauma are normal and natural. In situations where we feel unsafe or threatened our trauma responses often come up as a way of trying to protect ourselves.
We are all vulnerable to trauma, but our trauma responses can vary depending on the situation and how it relates to our past experiences. Developing an understanding of trauma responses can help us be more aware of our reactions and take care of ourselves by finding healthy ways to cope with difficult emotions. By validating these reactions, you can support yourself or someone else through this process and in turn create a sense of safety that is essential for healing from trauma.
Explore how the trauma and life events have affected their life up until this point
Trauma can have a long-lasting impact on a person’s life, from the way they think, act and feel. Although it can be difficult to normalize these powerful experiences, it’s important to recognize that each individual reacts differently to physically or emotionally unsafe situations.
It is normal for those who have experienced trauma to face difficulty validating their emotions or experiences, as well as having a hard time opening up or trusting others, and to have difficulty forming relationships or experience an increase in anxiety or depressed mood. People who are going through these effects of trauma may need support in various forms to help them process their emotions and come to terms with the traumatic event. Understanding how deeply trauma has affected someone’s life is key in providing the help and care they need.
Work together to develop a plan for coping with and healing from trauma
Coping with trauma can be an overwhelming, difficult, and emotional process, which is why it is so important to focus on creating safety in the therapeutic relationship. Working together to develop a plan for healing from past trauma requires building trust and understanding between client and therapist, as well as helping client develop effective mindfulness, grounding and distress tolerance skills.
In conclusion, it is important to acknowledge and validate your client’s feelings in order for them to feel heard. By doing this, you create the opportunity for them to understand why the reactions they are having are normal and valid.
Through exploring their trauma history and its effects on their life until now, together you can create a plan rooted in self-care and managing their emotions more effectively. Showing them that each of these steps is essential for a full recovery will give them the hope needed during what may be a challenging journey. It is important to focus on understanding how your client feels so that they know they are not alone on this path of healing. Remember: Empathy, acceptance, validation and patience are key!