Taking the first steps: Overcoming the barriers to trauma recovery

Experiencing a traumatic event can have a profound impact on all areas of a person’s well-being, relationships, and life. Sometimes people feel the impact for months, even years after the traumatic event. While there are effective treatments for people struggling with the impact of a traumatic event, many people face barriers that prevent them from getting help.

Overcoming these barriers can be difficult but not impossible. Here are some first steps we recommend you take to start your journey to recovery. 

Step 1: Find the right clinical psychologist for you 

It can take time to find the right psychologist for you. There are a few signs you and your psychologist are a good match. You feel comfortable with your psychologist. Your psychologist listens to what you are saying and responds with empathy and without judgment. Your psychologist has a good understanding of your experiences and needs. Last but not least, your psychologist is trained and experienced in treating trauma. 

Step 2: Give yourself time to trust your psychologist

It can be hard to open up to someone you don’t know. This is especially true when you have to speak about things you feel ashamed of and have tried to forget. We recommend you give yourself the time and space to build a trusting relationship with your psychologist.  

Step 3: Choose the right time for treatment

Trauma treatments all involve regular psychology sessions. It is important that you have the time and emotional space to commit to your sessions. If you are facing situations in your everyday life where you are unsafe, you might consider putting off your trauma treatment so you can focus on your more immediate needs. We recommend you talk to your psychologist to work out your priorities and the right time to start your treatment.   

Step 4: Choose the right treatment for you

While there are several effective treatments for trauma, they all have important differences. These include; the number and frequency of sessions, the focus of the sessions, the techniques used to help process the trauma, the between session homework, among others. We recommend you talk to your psychologist to work out which treatment is best suited to you. 

Step 5: Remember, recovery is not linear

When you start therapy, you might have moments where you feel confronted, overwhelmed or upset. Don’t worry, this is a normal part of processing trauma. Your psychologist will closely monitor your emotions and progress so they can support you and ensure the treatment is working. Remember, most people who have not yet started treatment already feel this way on a daily basis.  

Step 6: Reach out to your supports

Going through trauma treatment can be a challenging process. We recommend you let the people close to you know that you have decided to seek treatment and may need extra support during this time. 

It is often confronting and scary to take the first steps towards trauma treatment. We hope these suggestions give you the information and encouragement you need to start your recovery journey. 

Further resources

Phoenix Australia, the Australian National Centre of Excellence in Posttraumatic Mental Health, has published the Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Acute Stress Disorder, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, and Complex PTSD (2021). The Guidelines list the treatments that have been scientifically validated to aid recovery from trauma.

The Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) Australia website has information on CPT and a directory of accredited CPT accredited providers.

The EMDR Association of Australia website has information on EMDR and a directory of accredited EMDR practitioners. 

The team at Headstrong Psychology is trained and experienced in working with people who have experienced trauma. If you would like to explore our team and the treatments we use, please get in touch on 0431 998 351.

Trauma & PTSD




Taking the first steps: Overcoming the barriers to trauma recovery

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