A note to all therapists, please don’t do this to trauma survivors ever

Open letter to all trauma therapists from Returning to Her, healing from harm. Never do these things.

Never have an agenda

No matter how wonderful your intention is, never enforce it, even subtly. Also, never let your client in a trauma spiral make decisions that will harm them irreparably. This is a tough battle to dance but if you can’t do it, don’t be a therapist.


You are dealing with the most harmed people on the planet so if you can’t navigate this terrain, don’t go there. Clients are trusting you, often as their last resort, to guide them.

Don’t lead with your intentions, ever

Asking a trauma survivor to do something they don’t want to do will add to their trauma, even if it is good for them.

Now you’ve put them in between two hard places instead of one and doubled their suffering. Their trauma instinct will go into massive trauma mode trying to:

  • avoid what they don’t want
  • fawn to please you while
  • fighting their original trigger
  • fleeing between two obstacles while
  • shutting down because there is nowhere else to go
  • blaming themselves deeply for not finding a resolution because they aren’t doing the “right” thing

The answer is finding resources they do want to have and doing that until they are strong enough to get out of their obstacle and see other pathways. They may decide to do what you intended in the first place or find a better solution for them.

Trauma survivors need help around the obstacle without you tethering your ideas to them. Now you’ve just added more resistance.

Proper resourcing

Trauma survivors need resources that will not turn on them and they are petrified that they will because what they relied on in the past has turned on them and left them where they are right now. They will be super sensitive to anything that could possibly do them more harm. Respect that. Their world is mere inches wide and tall. Adding ideas they struggle with takes off more space in their already tiny world.

What are proper resources?

  • medications, herbs, supplements they are comfortable taking and nothing they are not
  • places, people, and pets they trust and no one/nothing they dont
  • support groups with people who get it and no one that doesn’t
  • educational info they can feel stronger with and nothing that makes them feel more like they are the problem
  • therapy that is holding their pain with them instead of fixing it until they are ready to fix it

Look at their environment always

No one can heal in an unsafe environment. If someone is, your priority is to find proper places and people for them, not therapy.

If you do not even ask what their environment is like, you are going into “helping” them with a fixed mindset of them being the problem no matter what the issue is. This is the opposite of how to help because they are not ever the problem when they are being harmed.

If you do not ask about their environment, you are not capable of helping them.


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