In his book The Body Keeps the Score, Bessel van der Kolk, describes ways people heal from trauma. He says, “Sooner or later people do need to confront what has happened to them, but only after they feel safe and will not be retraumatized by it.” His recommendations include:
- deal with hyperarousal through yoga, neurofeedback or other emotional regulation techniques;
- develop mindfulness by paying attention to physical sensations, naming them, and observing the interplay between thoughts and feelings;
- focus on relationships. "Study after study shows that having a good support network constitutes the single most powerful protection against becoming traumatized." Traumatized human beings recover in the context of relationships: with families, loved ones, AA meetings, veterans organizations, religious communities, or professional therapists;
- find the healing power of community as expressed in music and rhythms, sensorimotor therapy, parent-child interaction therapy (PCIT), or sensory motor arousal regulation treatment (SMART);
- get touched. The most natural way humans calm down our distress is by being touched, hugged, and rocked. Try therapeutic massage, Feldenkrais, or craniosacral therapy; and
- take action. "People who actively do something to deal with a disaster, rescuing loved ones or strangers, transporting people to a hospital, being part of a medical team, pitching tents or cooking meals, utilize their stress hormones for their proper purpose and therefore are at much lower risk of becoming traumatized." Try sensorimotor psychotherapy or somatic experiencing therapy.
Mill City Kids is a Minneapolis Collaborative that has published an amazing video at the bottom of their home page that contains a clear description of historical trauma. Even more impressive is the story that follows about making a mistake, repairing the relationship, and publicly taking responsibility in a way that can help us all learn from it.
Beacon House is a therapeutic services and trauma team in the United Kingdom that has posted a video on YouTube that brilliantly describes how trauma impacts young brains and how we can go about repairing children’s early trauma.