Ways Healthy Relationships Help Heal Trauma


Do you ever feel like you need a friend’s support? But then stop yourself from reaching out writes Robyn Brickel of Brickel and Associates?

For all of us, healthy relationships matter. In fact, deep relationships are essential to being a healthy human being. For trauma survivors—or those who are experiencing or have experienced post-partum depression or mood disorders (which is also trauma)—the act of deepening relationships can be particularly difficult.

Reaching out in a time of need or asking for help doesn’t come easily to those who have experienced trauma in their lives. Something (seemingly) simple like accepting a compliment may be painfully hard. But the ability to move past these fears and hesitations is crucial on the road to living a full and balanced life.

Today, I want to talk about what might be keeping you from deepening your relationships and what to do about it.

  • Do you have the temptation to hunker down and handle it yourself?
  • Do you feel like nobody will get it?
  • Do you feel ashamed or weak—like you don’t deserve support or compassion?
  • Is there a self-protector part inside you who says: “I’m going to withdraw and stay safe so you don’t hurt me”?
  • Do you feel like you are supposed to just deal with it yourself?

If these questions feel true … if these doubts or voices creep up … I’m asking you to think about saying to yourself:

I deserve deep relationships. I deserve to be cared for and nurtured. I deserve compassion. People care about me—and it’s healthy to lean on them and ask for help when I need it.

Here are three tips to help you move forward into deeper relationships:

1. Know that having healthy relationships can repair old emotional wounds.

Healthy relationships can heal old attachment wounds. (Kelly Clarkson’s song, Piece by Piece, is a current and heartwarming example.) If you grew up without secure attachment or weren’t nurtured, it can become what you expect from others or your relationships as you grow. As I spoke about in loving a trauma survivor, healthy relationships can be restorative. Stan Tatkin, PACTSue Johnson, EFT, and Harville Hendrix, IMAGO are all founders of models of relational therapy who have done important work in this area.

2. Consider the unrealistic standards you are holding yourself to.

Would you expect a child or friend to be as self-sufficient as you expect from yourself? Yes, you must hold yourself accountable and be responsible, but you must also recognize that you’re human. Bring the compassion you have for those you love to yourself as well. Check out Kristin Neff’s phenomenal book, Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself and Lisa Ferentz’s new book, Finding Your Ruby Slippers: Transformative Life Lessons from the Therapist’s Couch.

3. Allow yourself to see the depths of your current relationships.

Oftentimes, trauma survivors are givers who expect and accept nothing in return. It might be tough to see the true depth of the love, support and compassion those close to you can (and want to) provide you. Try to look at your relationships objectively and consider this potential.

You deserve compassion, support and deep relationships…

Asking for help can be difficult for everyone. It can be especially difficult for those who have survived trauma. Through therapy, it’s possible to realize that you do truly deserve deep relationships as you grow and evolve through life—in the good times and the hard times.

More resources

If you need support join our Private and Closed online Facebook Group  for Child Abuse Survivors and those with CPTSD/PTSD. Click here to join.


    • Hi, I hope you can find the support you need. Maybe in the interim the online Facebook closed and private support group Youwillbearwitness might be of some help to you. Here is the link. There are some really great people there and you can inbox me any time you like. https://www.facebook.com/groups/277914119721153/ All the best Erin

      • Thanks, although when I say ‘support’ I mean locally. It’s not quite the same. I’ve had bad experiences with online communities anyway. People tend to want to tell you to volunteer or seek Jesus etc.

      • I totally understand. Local support is obviously the best kind. I just thought it might help in the meantime. Don’t worry there is no place for God botherers on this Online Support Group. I’d block them immediately. I hope you find the support you are looking for. All the best Erin. Stay in touch

I would love to hear from you so please leave a comment. All feedback is much appreciated. Thank you. Erin

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