Overcoming Trauma and PTSD Associated with Physical Spaces
What is PTSD?
- One or more re-experiencing symptoms.
- One or more avoidance symptoms.
- Two or more arousal and reactivity symptoms.
- Two or more cognition and mood symptoms.
Trauma, Memory and Physical Spaces
The Road to Recovery
- Progressive muscle relaxation: Tensing and relaxing one muscle group at a time to reduce rapid breathing and heartbeat, stress, stomach problems and headaches.
- Therapeutic breathing: Inhaling and exhaling when feeling stressed or anxious.
- Cognitive processing therapy: Making sense of traumatic memories by talking with a therapist about the events, which can help piece together disjointed memories.
Barriers to Getting Help
Race and ethnicity
- Wetting the bed after having learned to use the toilet.
- Forgetting how to or being unable to talk.
- Acting out the trauma during playtime.
- Unusual attachment to a parent or other adult.
Helping Others Help Themselves
How to Care for Others
- Be physically present and available.
- Look for signs that someone might be feeling unsafe in a space.
- Learn symptoms and identify who to call in the case of an emergency.
- Ask what their needs are.
- Educate yourself about healthy coping styles.
- Be flexible and responsive to changing needs.
How to Care for Yourself
- Build safety and trust with peers.
- Have a trusted companion when entering a space.
- Practice a hypothetical narrative.
- Imagine a safe space during a time of stress.
- Monitor signs of stress or symptoms of PTSD.
- Change the setup or design of a space that cues traumatic memory.
Where to Find Help
- American Psychological Association PTSD Guidelines for Patients and Families
- National Center for PTSD Self Help and Coping Resources
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Behavioral Treatment Locator
- S. Department of Health and Human Services Mental Health and Addiction Insurance Help