Trauma is the destruction of certainty. Trauma betrays the expectation of being understood, accepted, and protected in a reliable, responsive world. When an event of unquestionable magnitude occurs, such as that of September 11, 2001, or when an experience or sequence of experiences takes place, as is the case with sexual molestation, the wound of trauma leaves a person feeling unbearable uncertainty and plunged into a world of hopelessness and helplessness.

A person’s post-traumatic experience is likely to be aimed primarily at two things: maintaining a cohesive self at any price, and warding off all risk of repetition. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is the broadly conceived terminology that refers to the wide range of emotional disabilities that follow on the heels of trauma. Heard frequently in conjunction with returning war veterans, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is, in essence, the amalgam of complex coping mechanisms that the shattered self has adopted in order to maintain cohesion. The problem with PTSD, however, is that because the trauma is always in danger of being repeated, the defensive mechanisms are always in effect. The self is both lost and protected behind massive defensive strategies.

The role of the trauma therapy and of the trauma therapist is also two-fold: to help the patient maintain self-cohesiveness, and to help restore the patient’s shattered expectations of control and self-determination. The psychotherapist is finely tuned to the patient’s needs, and never pushes for a more speedy process. Here, possibly more than anywhere, safe and measured steps are the keys to healing.