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LAST REVIEWED 16 January 2023

Coping with trauma for better mental health

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Many people experience something traumatic at some point in their life. A traumatic event is one where you are in danger, perhaps where there is threat to life or safety, such as an accident, assault, natural disaster, war, illness or abuse. It can also be an event where you witness something traumatic happening to others or learn about it happening to a loved one.

Good Thinking has produced several resources designed to help you cope with trauma, including the new ‘Coping with Trauma’ workbook and accompanying short film series. These have been produced in partnership with trauma expert Caroline Harrison, a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.

It’s important to point out that, whilst helpful, the techniques described in the workbook aren’t as powerful as therapy, which can help you move forward after a traumatic experience more effectively. Also, if you find that the techniques in the workbook don’t seem to help at first, don’t worry. Sometimes it helps if a trained therapist can go through them with you, until you find the right techniques for you. Some of the films show you what it’s like to talk with a therapist about this.

We recommend that you watch these films before using the ‘Coping with Trauma’ workbook as they may help you use it more effectively.

To download the workbook, please click on the link below:

To print the workbook please click on the links below:

About the workbook

‘Coping with Trauma’ provides a series of seven techniques that offer help and guidance if you:

  • Experience overwhelming emotions.
  • Have intrusive memories or flashbacks of a traumatic event.
  • Re-experience feelings in your body from the time of the trauma.
  • Want to develop a way of coping that doesn’t have harmful consequences, such as drinking alcohol or using drugs.

Although these techniques can help, seeing a therapist will be more effective in helping you recover from a traumatic experience. You can find out about therapy in your area here.

About the techniques

The seven techniques described in this workbook are designed specifically to help people who have experienced trauma and are out of danger now. They’re not designed for those who are currently experiencing trauma. In these situations, the techniques could potentially make you feel worse.

If the trauma is over and in the past, these techniques can help you focus on what’s happening around you, stay in the present and help to remind you that the danger is over and that you are safe now.

The seven techniques are:

  • Grounding statement: Positive words to remind you that you got through the trauma and are safe now.
  • Grounding across the five senses: Using your senses of sight, sound, smell, touch and taste to keep you in the present.
  • Body movement: Using your body to tell you the trauma is over.
  • Updating: Reminding yourself what you know now.
  • Same/different: Reminding yourself what is different now to the time of the trauma.
  • Imagery work: Giving you more control of the images in your mind.
  • Nightmare rescripting: Creating a different script for any bad dreams you have.

Find a safe space

After a traumatic experience you may be worried about anything that might ‘trigger’ you or might cause you to relive the traumatic experience.

Watch the films or use the workbook in a place where you feel peaceful and comfortable. You may want to have someone around to support you if you feel distressed.

Further support

If you feel uncomfortable or uncertain about using the workbook, it is a good idea to discuss your concerns with a professional, such as your GP, or a therapist. A therapist can also support you in additional ways, and help you recover from the traumatic experience.

If you would like to see a therapist, you can find specialist trauma therapists and psychologists through the NHS Talking Therapies service. The ‘Coping with Trauma’ workbook may support you while you are waiting to see a therapist and help you feel safe again.

Have questions about traumatic experiences? Watch these films or click here to read our Q&A.

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