How To Resolve Trauma in Three Phases

Life is good… full of beauty, relationships, and potential. But when distressing experiences overwhelm our ability to cope with and integrate it, we’re left feeling disempowered and disconnected from a world we no longer trust. This is trauma. Fortunately, our minds, like our bodies, are designed with a capacity to heal. Resolving trauma is a three-phase process through which we recover our sense of safety, strength, and relational connection.

Phase 1: Safety & Stabilization 

Phase 1 prepares a client to successfully address their trauma. This is where they establish personal safety, basic self care, and resources for healing. Part of this includes learning to recognize and regulate distressing emotions like anxiety, anger, and shame, so they don’t take over. Therapists help clients develop core skills for this, including physical calming, mindfulness, and self-compassion. This phase can take time, but it’s essential to the healing journey.

Phase 2: Remembering, Reprocessing, & Grieving

Phase 2 is where we process and resolve traumatic material, removing the traumatic nature of distressing memories and enabling clients to grieve and let them go. Therapists help clients navigate this phase gently while constantly maintaining safety and stability. What people are left with is a fuller awareness of their safety and strength, as well as a positive regard for themselves that highlights their potential to build healthy, satisfying relationships. 

Phase 3: Reconnection & Integration

Phase 3 builds on the emerging positive experience. Clients redefine their story and sense of self in the context of meaningful relationships. Their former trauma becomes part of their larger stories and no longer the defining and organizing principle. Survivors acknowledge the impact of their trauma while celebrating their resilience and power to overcome. The result is an empowered and self-determined lifestyle that’s free to pursue and enjoy meaningful relationships and experiences.

This Post Written By:
John Lynch, MSW, LCSW, MDiv – Journeys Counseling Center
6516 S. Rural Road, Suite 101
Tempe, Arizona 85283
Phone: (480) 656-0500