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  • Writer's pictureBrain Botanics

Unravelling Trauma Survivor's Guilt

In the intricate tapestry of the human emotional experience, guilt is a thread that weaves its way throughout. It’s a universal feeling, but for trauma survivors, guilt can take on an even more significant, often overwhelming role. In understanding this, the pioneering work of Janina Fisher, a renowned expert in the field of trauma and dissociation, is essential.

Understanding Trauma Survivor's Guilt

In the wake of traumatic experiences, survivors often find themselves battling a profound sense of guilt. They may blame themselves for the incident, or for not reacting "appropriately" or "effectively," regardless of how irrational this might be. Janina Fisher’s research illuminates this complex, self-blaming response as a survival-oriented strategy, a part of the biological response to trauma that she calls "the trauma legacy."

According to Fisher, our brains are wired for survival. In a traumatic event, the brain does what it believes is necessary to survive, which can sometimes mean submitting or freezing instead of fighting or fleeing. The guilt emerges afterwards, when the individual questions their actions (or perceived lack thereof) during the traumatic event.

Unravelling the Guilt

Fisher argues that one of the key aspects of healing from traumatic guilt is understanding and accepting that the responses during trauma are automatic, not chosen. They are the brain and body's survival strategies, not character flaws or weaknesses.

To facilitate this process, Fisher suggests an approach rooted in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, a body-centered therapy that integrates talk therapy with body-centered interventions. This therapy helps individuals learn to listen to their bodies, to understand their automatic responses, and to cultivate a compassionate understanding of their survival strategies.

Strategies to Alleviate Trauma-Related Guilt

  1. Education: Understanding trauma and its impact on the brain can often provide relief from guilt. Knowledge empowers individuals to see their experiences from a less self-blaming perspective.

  2. Body-Based Therapies: Engaging in therapies such as Sensorimotor Psychotherapy allows survivors to explore their physical reactions to trauma, helping them understand their responses were survival-based, not chosen.

  3. Self-Compassion Practices: Fisher emphasizes the importance of self-compassion. Exercises such as loving-kindness meditation can be powerful tools in promoting self-forgiveness and reducing guilt.

  4. Trauma-Informed Therapy: Working with a trauma-informed therapist can provide a safe space to process guilt and other trauma-related emotions. Therapists can assist in reframing self-blame and guiding survivors towards healing

Start Your Journey With Brain Botanics Therapy

Transforming your understanding of trauma and learning to alleviate guilt can feel like a daunting task to take on alone. At Brain Botanics Therapy, I am here to guide you through this journey. I am extensively trained in trauma-informed therapies and strategies inspired by Janina Fisher's ground-breaking work. I will support you in cultivating self-compassion, understanding your trauma responses, and learning to release guilt.

Remember, you don't have to face this journey alone. Reach out to Brain Botanics Therapy and let me help you navigate the path towards healing. Your journey to understanding and overcoming your trauma-related guilt can start today. Connect with me now and take the first step in reclaiming your life from the grip of guilt. I'm ready when you are. It's time to prioritize you.

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