Counseling Notes: What is Trauma?

By: Kyle J. Howard Topic: Trauma

Trauma = Haunting pain

Trauma is the result of physical, emotional, and/or psychological pain that haunts a person through life rather than being contained to a specific moment in time. In short, Trauma is the result of being haunted or perpetually stuck in a moment of pain.

People with trauma, are people who have a dysfunctional relationship with their past. Due to the trauma, they relate to their past in a way where it rules their present. “Triggers” are their past’s way of asserting dominance over their present. Again, they are haunted by past pain.

The term “haunting” means that someone with trauma is not responsible for this dysfunctional relationship. Their responses to the ghosts of past pain is largely psychological, emotional, & physiological. Often, it’s the lack of control one has in response to trauma that is most burdensome.

Healing from trauma can be a long and exhaustive process. However, Often, trauma care isn’t provided on the most foundational level and so healing is drawn out. The most fundamental level of trauma care/healing is redefining your past & it’s relation to the present.

As a Biblical Counselor, this means helping Christians understand their past from a biblical perspective (creation, fall, redemption, gospel, their story) & helping them relate it to their present (Image bearer with brokenness & scars who is adopted by God & destined for glory).

Trauma care that does not include reconciling the haunting pain of the past with the redemptive present in light of the cross will not transform from the root but only prune stems.

In race based trauma, this healing process will include developing an understanding of the creation, purpose, tension (sin realities), & redemption of ethnicity. Counseling includes helping one come to terms with the racializations they’ve experienced & how it relates to these categories in time (past, present, and future).

In verbal abuse trauma, it is the venom of words spoken in the past that have echoed into the present. A person is haunted by harsh or evil words from the past which we know, according to James 3, have tremendous power.

In physical/sexual abuse trauma, it is the haunting of powerlessness that stalks an individual in the present.

None of these examples are exhaustive, but the point remains the same. Trauma is haunting pain that causes an individual to live their lives stuck in a painful moment in the past. Healing from trauma requires an understanding of space and time, and the role the past has in light of the present. Renewing the mind in light of trauma is not an easy process, but it is a hopeful one. Christians are a redeemed people who don’t only live in light of the present, but in light of the future. God does not just decree our present as having no condemnation, he decrees our future as being glorified. The Christian is the person who does not have to live according to the past, but can live in light of a redeemed present and glorified future.

 

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Kyle J. Howard Kyle J. Howard currently serves the church as a biblical counselor. He is a student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where he received his associate degree in biblical/theological studies and a bachelor’s degree in biblical counseling. He is finishing a graduate degree in Historical Theology and is preparing to plant and pastor a transcultural church.

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