Today we have psychotherapist Ella McCrystal sharing her personal journey and expertise on Post Traumatic Growth. As Editor-in-Chief I felt it important to mention that this article does need a trigger warning since it touches on some sensitive subjects. Therefore, if you feel that childhood trauma could be a trigger for you, please do leave this article for another time. Over to Ella…
Healing is Possible
As a brain-based psychotherapist, survivor of childhood sexual abuse, and author of “Wounded Warrior Wisdom,” I am deeply committed to shedding light on the often-overlooked but incredibly transformative process of post-traumatic growth after enduring childhood trauma.
Childhood trauma can leave deep scars, but it does not define your future. The journey of post traumatic growth is a testament to the remarkable resilience of the human spirit. It involves not just healing but flourishing, emerging from darkness with newfound strength, wisdom, and purpose.
As a brain-based psychotherapist and survivor myself, I have been privileged to witness countless clients transform their lives through post-traumatic growth. It is my hope that this piece serves as a source of inspiration and guidance for survivors and those who support them on their path to healing and thriving.
Post Traumatic Growth
In the words of Maya Angelou, “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” Embrace the journey of post-traumatic growth with courage, and you may discover a wellspring of resilience and wisdom within yourself that you never knew existed.
It is a common misconception that survivors of childhood trauma are forever bound by their past. In reality, the human spirit possesses an astounding ability to grow, adapt, and heal, even in the face of unimaginable adversity. Post-traumatic growth (PTG) is the phenomenon where individuals emerge from traumatic experiences not just intact but stronger, wiser, and more resilient than before.
PTG involves several dimensions. Individuals may discover an inner reservoir of strength and courage they never knew they possessed. This newfound strength becomes the foundation for their healing journey. in addition, trauma often forces individuals to reevaluate their priorities and values. They gain a deeper
understanding of life’s fragility and the importance of living authentically.
Survivors often report a greater appreciation for their relationships, as trauma can inspire
empathy, compassion, and a desire for meaningful connections. Furthermore, PTG can lead to a
heightened appreciation for life’s simple joys and a newfound zest for living in the moment.
Trauma & The Brain
Understanding the neurological underpinnings of post-traumatic growth can demystify the process and empower survivors. Neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to reorganise itself, plays a pivotal role in healing after trauma. Trauma can reshape neural pathways, leading to symptoms like anxiety, depression, and hypervigilance. However, with the right therapeutic interventions, the brain can rewire itself, allowing survivors to regain control over their emotions and responses.
The brain’s reward system is activated through positive social interactions. Connecting with supportive individuals can trigger the release of oxytocin, fostering trust and emotional healing. In addition, mindfulness practices can strengthen the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for executive functions like decision-making and emotional regulation. Mindfulness practices such as meditation and deep breathing exercises can also help regulate emotions and reduce stress.
This can be a powerful tool in overcoming trauma.
Where to Start?
The journey of post-traumatic growth often begins with seeking professional help from a therapist who specialises in trauma. Therapy provides a safe space to process emotions and develop coping strategies.
Surround yourself with a supportive network of friends and family who understand and respect your healing process. Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding you would offer a close friend. Self-compassion is a key component of PTG.
Keeping a journal can be a wonderful way to express your thoughts and emotions. It also allows you to track your progress and celebrate small victories. Make sure you also establish achievable goals that promote personal growth and build self-esteem. Celebrate each step forward, no matter how small.
To close, I’d like to share an affirmation with you. One you can practice every day to remind yourself of just how magical you really are:
“Today, I affirm that my past does not define my future. I have the power to heal, grow, and thrive. I am resilient, strong, and capable of embracing post-traumatic growth. With each step on this journey, I am becoming the best version of myself, and I am deserving of love, happiness, and a bright future.”