How We Help People With Trauma

Here are some ways that FOM Coaches help clients who are dealing with trauma.
helping with trauma

How We Help People With Trauma

Trauma is a deeply personal experience that often leaves us feeling isolated, overwhelmed, and burdened by the weight of our past. It’s as if we’re perpetually carrying a bag of bad feelings and traumatic memories that hold us back from living a life of peace, ease and joy. 

So how do we cope with trauma? How, in any kind of way, can we be our own best advocate when things feel impossible?

One way is to get help from a certified coach—someone trained to help you navigate the difficult and painful parts of your past. Here are some ways a coach can help you grapple with trauma.

How we help clients deal with traumatic memories

1. We establish trust and break the trauma stigma

The first and most important part of helping someone deal with trauma involves gaining their trust. Many people who have trauma carry intense feelings of shame, guilt, responsibility, confusion, denial, anxiety and fear. These feelings might come out in statements like: 

  • “Did I play a role in the trauma that happened? Did I allow it to happen?”
  • “I’m to blame for what happened to me.”
  • “I can’t ever be happy again because of what transpired.”
  • “Someone took something from me, and I’ll never get it back.”
  • “I’m never going to be who I was again. This changes everything forever.”
  • “If people knew what I’d been through or done, they’d see me differently.”

When someone dealing with trauma shares thoughts like these with us, we don’t initially refute or reframe these thoughts. Instead, we assure them that we’re ready to listen, walk with them, and hear their story.

Why is this so important?

Because people experiencing trauma already carry so much guilt, fear and sadness—and a negative reaction to their lived experience can make them feel like even more of a burden. More than that, it can make them feel isolated. Dismissing their concerns can induce even more shame and loneliness, so instead we create an open space to really get their story.

2. We let clients share and progress at their own pace

One size doesn't fit all when it comes to trauma. Each person heals at their own pace, and it is essential to be patient. Trauma can make it challenging for individuals to open up, and when they do, the pace of the conversation should align with their comfort level. Pacing is a delicate dance—it entails respecting their need for time while gently encouraging them to explore their experiences.

When we talk with someone about trauma, we consider the rate at which we’re extracting their story. Do they seem talkative and open to sharing? If so, we will let them speak as freely as they’d like while digging deeper into their story.

If, on the other hand, they grow increasingly uncomfortable or silent when speaking about traumatic memories, we don’t overdo it. Instead, we put a pin in it. Discomfort around a topic indicates to us that it’s a topic worth exploring, but we respect when someone isn’t ready yet.

We’re also patient when it comes to our clients’ progress. For some clients who are struggling with trauma, we are able to help them feel much better about the situation quite quickly. For others, it may take more time, and their perspective may not shift as drastically.

Progress looks different for everyone, and we’re not tied to a specific result. Our goal is to help clients feel more at peace and at ease with circumstances that used to feel painful and uncomfortable.

3. We help separate the past from the present

Once we’ve established trust and understood the whole story, we look for opportunities to separate the past from the present. 

What does this mean, exactly?

Trauma has a way of intertwining past events with the present, making it difficult for individuals to separate themselves from their stories. People can take on the mantle of their trauma in such a way that it defines their thoughts, actions and lives.

Soldiers who have experienced active combat may see themselves as monsters, victims of abuse may think they are weak for “allowing” things to happen, and people who have lost their homes or life’s savings may call themselves irresponsible. 

Our goal is to help people understand that they don't have to carry the weight of their past forever. We encourage clients to put down the baggage, emphasizing that their actions or inactions do not define their entire being.

There are several ways we do this. Here are some examples:

  • Focusing on non-trauma-related moments: One way to help someone lessen the impact of traumatic memories involves sharing new, unrelated moments together. A great coach will give you space to talk about non-trauma-related events, and focus on finding opportunities to create new, more joyful memories.

  • Encouraging a different perspective: When working with trauma, we invite clients to slowly start letting go of the negative ways in which they see themselves. We may ask questions like, “What would you have time for if you could put some of this baggage down for a bit?” or “Would you be this harsh on a friend who was experiencing a traumatic situation?”

  • Sharing a positive view of them: Great coaches will share their positive view of their clients with them, highlighting their strengths, capabilities, and resilience. A great coach will help someone dealing with trauma understand that the goal is not to change the trauma but to infuse more “life” into their present. By offering companionship, humor, and a safe space for expression, coaches counteract the isolation that often accompanies trauma.

  • Taking the “fear” out of sharing baggage: Coaches encourage open communication, creating a space where vulnerability is welcomed. If they express difficulty in recalling or sharing more of their story, a coach will reassure them that they’re safe and that their confidence in their client remains unwavering.

Erasing trauma is not the goal

Our job isn’t necessary to “fix” a client with traumatic memories. Not only is this not our goal, but it’s also an unrealistic train of thought. As much as we’d all love to remove traumatic memories and trauma triggers from others, doing so can be impossible.

Instead, coaches internalize and embrace a much more realistic belief: that by providing unwavering support and shining a light on different perspectives, they can help clients live a much happier, healthier and freer life despite the trauma they’ve experienced. 

Our goal is not to change anyone’s past, but to be a steady presence in their present, alleviating isolation and promoting a sense of connection.

Tackling trauma through continued support

Navigating trauma is hard to do alone, but compassion, patience, and insights from a certified coach can help. By addressing the stigma around trauma, pacing the journey, separating the past from the present, and sharing a positive view of their client, a great coach can play a vital role in healing from trauma.

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