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Common Reactions to Trauma

Long-term reactions to trauma are unique, personal, and often painful. Sometimes the reactions seem random, as if they have little to do with the trauma. Other times, they are simply too much. They are vivid, painful, and overwhelming. A step in many trauma interventions involves normalizing these reactions, and showing that a person is not broken, wrong, or alone.

The Common Reactions to Trauma worksheet summarizes the common symptoms and reactions that many people experience after a trauma. The goal of this tool is to validate and normalize a range of reactions to trauma, which can have numerous benefits. Symptoms that may have seemed random and uncontrollable are now attached to a trauma, building hope that they may be treated.

This tool is best used as a prompt for discussion about an individual's unique response to trauma. Encourage your client to describe the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors they have experienced since the trauma, using this resource as a roadmap.

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1. Foa, E. B., Hembree, E., & Rothbaum, B. O. (2007). Prolonged exposure therapy for PTSD: Emotional processing of traumatic experiences, Therapist Guide (Treatments that work). New York: Oxford University Press.

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