New hope and understanding for survivors of repeated, relational trauma.
As a therapist, Gretchen Schmelzer has watched far too many people quit during treatment for trauma recovery. They find it too difficult or frightening or they decide that it's just too late for them. So she wrote Journey Through Trauma specifically for survivors--to help them understand the terrain of the healing process and stay on the path.
She begins by laying out three important assumptions that support a survivor's healing: that it is possible, that it requires courage, and that it cannot be done alone. Traumas that happen more than once--child abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence, gang violence, war--are all relational traumas. They are traumas that happen inside a relationship and therefore must be healed inside a relationship, whether that relationship is with a therapist or within a group.
She then guides us through the five phases that every survivor must negotiate: Preparation, Unintegration, Identification, Integration, and Consolidation. She creates a mental map of the healing process that helps survivors recognize where they are in their journey to health, see where the hard parts occur, and persevere in the process of getting well. Since the cycle of healing repeated trauma is not linear, the survivor comes to understand that circling back around to a previous stage actually means progress as well as facing new challenges.
Ultimately, the healing journey is one of trust as survivors come to trust their capacity to rely on help from others and to trust themselves and the work they have done.
About the Author:
Gretchen Schmelzer, PhD, is a licensed psychologist, trained as a Harvard Medical School Fellow. She is a trauma survivor who has worked for twenty-five years with the complex issues of trauma, integration, and behavior change across every level, from individuals to groups to large systems and countries. She has worked with individuals and groups in large clinics and clinics in housing projects, in residential treatment facilities, in psychiatric units and medical hospital units, and in private practice. She has more than a decade of experience working with traumatized children and adolescents in residential treatment and psychiatric units. She is the founder and editor of The Trail Guide, a web-mag featured on www.gretchenschmelzer.com dedicated to healing repeated trauma.