Here is how you can offer your client a reparative experience in the way that you respond to their painful disclosures of trauma.

4 thoughts on "How to Respond to Disclosures of Trauma"

  1. Thank you, Lisa. Great advice. It is very hard to hear about traumatic experiences, and these words are not only grounding for the client, but help create healthy boundaries in the therapuetic relationship.

    1. lisaferentz says:

      Thank you, Vivian! I appreciate your awareness about the need for client safety, emotional regulation, and healthy boundaries!

  2. Wendy Tuck says:

    I am wondering, if it would be helpful before you “let them know”… they are not at fault or they couldn’t stop it… maybe you could let them tell you how it felt to be them, how they did feel they were at fault, or yes, they do feel they should have stopped it… it sounds counter-intuitive, cuz you want them to stop thinking that. But often, I’ve found that when you tell patients what you want them to stop doing/thinking/feeling, they do hear it as “stop being you.” It can be very dis-empowering for survivors, even tho your instincts as a therapist are to “save them” from distressful thinking/shame/blame, etc. When you try to take it away from them, too early, without letting the survivor explore what it WAS like for them and how they DID feel, then I think the patient gives up trying to feel how they felt, and they can’t understand their own exoerience. When a therapist questions the patient’s reality, the patient has 2 options – agree and be compliant, which is what she did with every abuser, or disagree and risk alienating you or sounding angry and defiant and resistant. I think patients need to go to the dark side a bit and see what they see before the therapist tries to tell them how they should feel/think, etc. Just a thought.

  3. Pamela Weissman says:

    Lisa,
    Thank you so much for this piece. Our clients deserve such kindness, tender care and abiding acceptance. You remind us of this and so much more which is always so helpful and again so greatly appreciated.

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