Are you seeking the best way to recover from trauma but are overwhelmed by all the options? Should you try EMDR first, start a gratitude journal, dive into exposure therapy, or practice yoga?
Trauma recovery follows three stages according to the legendary Harvard psychiatrist, Dr. Judith Herman: 1. Establish Safety, 2. Remember and Mourn, and 3. Reconnect. You’ll recover from PTSD symptoms like flashbacks and panic attacks more fully if you start at the beginning and take it one step at a time.
Here are some actions you can take to successfully navigate each stage in your recovery.
Step 1: Establish Safety
Is your body stuck in fight-or-flight mode and reacting to the world like you’re still in danger? Then start your recovery with Step 1, establishing safety. Try yoga, breathing exercises, supportive counseling, and healthy routines to teach your body and brain that you’re safe now. The aim of Step 1 is to calm your nervous system down and establish the inner feeling of safety and stability.
Step 2: Remember and Mourn
Once you feel calm, safe and energized to tackle your trauma, you’re ready to move to Step 2. In this next stage, you’ll teach your brain that the traumatic event happened in the past, and is no longer happening now. Techniques like Detrauma correct the ‘memory coding error’ that causes re-experiencing like flashbacks and nightmares. You can achieve this by confronting the memories that are causing you distress and reprocessing them safely.
You may also mourn what you’ve lost, for example, trust, relationships, beliefs, a home, health, or a career. This second stage of recovery is challenging, and a counselor, peer support group or therapist can help you tackle it safely. The healthy practices you established in Step 1 will also help you feel grounded and safe while you tackle the past.
Step 3: Reconnect
With the memory of trauma safely filed away in the past where it belongs, it’s time to rebuild your life in the present, and pursue your aspirations for the future. In step 3, you’ll reinvent a new self and discover new meaning and depth in your life.
Like many survivors, you may develop and deepen relationships with loved ones, friends and your community and learn to trust again. You may thrive and flourish by keeping a gratitude journal, expressing yourself through art, dance or spirituality, or driving change in your community through social activism.
The best way to recover from trauma is to follow your own unique path through these 3 stages.
When you’re ready for Step 2, try Detrauma
Detrauma guides you through writing therapy, step by step. You’ll confront your distressing memories with pen-and-paper writing exercises. You’ll teach your brain that the traumatic event happened in the past, and that you’re safe now.
Writing therapy was developed by psychologists at the National Center for PTSD, and has been validated in clinical trials to substantially reduce or remove PTSD symptoms like flashbacks and panic attacks.
After trauma strikes, survivors often hear, “go get therapy!” But when they try, they’re put on a waiting list for weeks, months or even years. What can you do if you’re stuck on a long waiting list for trauma therapy, and can’t afford private PTSD treatments?
We developed Detrauma to make a highly-effective trauma therapy accessible to everyone who needs it. The five, 30-minute writing sessions help you tackle the traumatic memories that may be the root-cause of your distress.
Clinical studies show that Detrauma’s writing exercises relieve PTSD symptoms and are just as effective as face-to-face trauma-focused therapy. It’s affordable, private, and you can finish it in five days or five weeks. It won’t jeopardize your position on the therapy waiting list, and you can even bring your writing to your first therapy session to give your treatment a flying start. In the meantime, you can start healing and enjoying life again.
Detrauma is a mobile app designed to help you tackle the symptoms of post-traumatic stress. The app guides you through three key steps: measuring your symptoms, completing five, 30-minute writing exercises, and tracking your progress. Detrauma is based on Written Exposure Therapy, an evidence-based treatment developed by researchers at the National Center for PTSD.
1. Measure your PTSD symptoms
The Detrauma app starts with a PTSD symptom quiz, so you can see how much your symptoms improve after each of the five writing exercises.
Detrauma’s Quiz measures the severity of your current post-traumatic stress symptoms. The Quiz asks 20 questions about the level of distress you’ve experienced recently, related to a single traumatic event in your past.
In each session, Detrauma will guide you through a 30-minute writing exercise, which you will do with pen and paper in a quiet space without distractions. In each exercise, you will recall a single traumatic memory and write about it, in detail. Grammar and spelling aren’t important.
The writing exercises are based upon Written Exposure Therapy, which was developed by scientists at the National Center for PTSD as a trauma-focused alternative to talk therapy. Clinical research shows that WET is as effective in treating PTSD as Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), a ‘gold standard’ trauma therapy.
3. Track your progress
Following each of Detrauma’s five writing sessions, you will receive a personalized report to track your progress. The dashboard’s graphs and charts show you how your symptoms have improved since you started your Detrauma journey. We’ll give you customized tips to improve the effectiveness of each writing exercises to maximize your symptom relief.
You can decide to complete the five writing exercises in five days or five weeks. The important thing is to commit to a regular daily or weekly writing time in your schedule and follow through. Research shows that most people who fully engage in the writing sessions see their PTSD symptoms decrease significantly. Many WET participants no longer meet the diagnostic criteria for PTSD after just five writing sessions.