Seeking Help After Trauma
Sharing Your Story

Question

I don’t talk about my assault to my therapist because I’m scared to relive it, how do I move on?

Answer

Talking about your trauma can be challenging, especially when recalling it triggers painful memories. Despite this, many people say disclosing their trauma to a trained professional can be helpful. It can be difficult to balance keeping yourself safe while allowing space for healing, however, so here are some tips. First, make sure your therapist has experience with trauma survivors. If they don’t, you might want to consider finding someone who does to ensure safe disclosure. It is important to recognize while most therapists are genuinely caring individuals, they do not always know how to work with trauma. This could lead to unintentional mistakes that could impact your healing going forward. If your therapist does not have experience with trauma, you can ask them to recommend someone who may be more equipped to discuss your history with you. Your therapist should want what is best for you and should not be upset if you need to pause or discontinue working together to ensure your needs are being met. Before you disclose to your current therapist or a new one, know that you have full control over what you decide to share and when you say it. Disclosure may happen on the first session with your therapist or even after several months. It may take a while for you to feel comfortable sharing personal stories with a new person. It is also important to recognize that you can disclose that you experienced a traumatic event, without needing to go into the details of what actually happened. Focusing on how you are feeling now and what your needs are going forward can often be enough to begin to take legitimate steps towards healing. You may, however, want to process or talk through details to help make sense of it. If so, your therapist can help you to pace your disclosure to minimize the risk of experiencing a flashback. Finally, know that you never have to share your trauma if you do not want to. Not all survivors use therapy to process their traumatic experiences. Regardless of any of the advice given here, only you can decide when you are ready to disclose your trauma. Whenever that is, your therapist will be there to listen. Trauma can be a huge weight to carry, but you do not need to carry it all on your own.

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