Living with Trauma Memories — video presentation by Diane Langberg
Living with Trauma Memories is a presentation (available on YouTube) by Dr. Diane Langberg, a Christian psychologist who we have featured in the past. In this presentation she discusses two phases that are necessary for recovery from trauma. Both trauma victims and those counseling trauma victims will benefit from her overview of these two phases so we have decided to highlight her presentation.
Diane begins by saying,
What I am going to talk about today is how to live with traumatic memories. And any of you who have trauma memories know that you really don’t want to live with them, you just want them to go away, or if you can’t make them disappear you would at least like to not have to think about them. But if you have trauma in your life you know the experience also of trying to sort of hide it from yourself so you don’t have to think about it and then something happens and it breaks thru and there it is again. So you can’t get rid of it. . . because you can’t erase trauma memories. You cannot make them go away.
Trauma memories will not disappear from our minds because our brains are made in a way to not forget anything. It’s all in there. Sometimes we can’t find it. You know you want to remember something and you can’t find it, but everything is in there. So since we cannot erase them then we must learn to live with them so they do not poison us.
What I’m going to do is focus on the things that help us live with trauma memories and honor them as real events and still be able to live today in strong and creative ways.
Phase One: Looking to the past
— talking, tears and time
Diane continues by introducing phase one which includes three things that need to occur in order for people to begin to recover from trauma. She explains,
All three of them have to happen. If just one or two happens recovery will not occur. So we need all three of them. And the three things are this: talking, tears, and time.
Diane states that the talking, the tears, and time are like instruments that the survivor can use toward their own healing. And these instruments allow the survivor to look at the past — look back at the trauma and saying what is was and how it hurt them.
Phase Two: Looking to the Future
— a caring relationship, purpose or work, and faith
Diane then presents the next phase of recovery which also has three components. This phase can only occur after talking, tears, and time, and is focused on the future. It helps the survivor shift from the past and start thinking about tomorrow.
Now there’s another phase of recovery and it also has three things in it. . . The second phase of recovery which has three things is more focused on the future. When you’re talking, tears, and time you’re looking at the past. Yes, you’re looking back at the trauma and saying what is was and how it hurt you. The second phase of recovery is looking (to the future) which you cannot do until you’ve (looked at the past). So (survivors) need to go through the talking, tears, and time and then (they) will shift and start thinking about tomorrow or next year or whenever. That’s the second phase of recovery.
Diane concludes her presentation introducing the three components of phase two of recovery: a caring relationship, purpose or work, and faith, and explaining how these three things help to reconnect people back to life.
Thank you to Philip Monroe for uploading this presentation onto YouTube. You can find other resources created or recommended by Diane Langberg at dianelangberg.com, and at Global Trauma Recovery Institute which she co-leads with another Christian psychologist, Philip G Monroe.