Dr. Steiner's Tools for Change

Articles & Publications

  1. Toolkit for Families Living with Chronic Medical Illness
  2. Healing Power of Groups
  3. Why Nickname your Illness?
  4. ❧ Coping with Trauma

Coping with Trauma


We all have encountered a stressful event outside of the realm of usual human experience. As a victim of this type of stress, you can expect to experience the after effects to varying degrees. This handout is designed to help you understand your reactions, and help you cope with the emotions that are stirred up by the recent tragedies. Whenever there is a trauma, tragedy or natural disaster it has ripple effects throughout the community, your family and loved ones. Acknowledging these emotional reactions helps to shorten recovery time and prevent complications through the natural healing process.


  • Feelings: Sad, scared, angry, irritable, feeling numb, or confused
  • Difficulty concentrating, making decisions and thinking creatively
  • Feeling guilty that others have suffered more than you have
  • Recall of past traumas or losses
  • Fear of leaving loved ones or your home
  • Discomfort being alone
  • Disbelief
  • Flashbacks
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Increase or decrease of sexual drive
  • Minimizing the traumatic event
  • Forgetfulness
  • Cold-like symptoms
  • Sense that life is out of balance
  • Increase/decrease in appetite
  • Increased substance use
  • Increased risk of suicide
  • Social Withdrawal
  • Feelings of being "out of control"
  • Fears of "going crazy"
  • Loss of feeling secure in the world
  • Self doubt or change in self-confidence


  • Reactions can vary widely from one day to the next.
  • Don't be alarmed by the re-emergence of emotional feelings after days, weeks, or months
  • If you have kept yourself busy, you may find that you experience these reactions on a different timetable than others do.

NOTE: People with medical conditions, a history of trauma, physical abuse and war veterans may experience more intense reactions, flashbacks and other symptoms.


  • Don't push thoughts and memories of the event away, it is critical to talk about them.
  • Don't feel embarrassed about a repetitious need to talk to people.
  • Be compassionate of yourself: allow extra time to do usual tasks - you may be distracted and not be as efficient as usual.
  • Keep your life in balance, remember to:
    • Eat properly, get enough sleep and exercise
    • Balance your work with rest
    • Avoid new major projects in life
    • Keep a familiar routine with familiar people and surroundings


Do not hesitate to make contact with trained counselors or clergy whenever the following events occur:

  • Whenever your normal sleep is significantly disrupted. If you are bothered by persistent sadness, irritability, or nervousness.
  • Call for help if you have suicidal thoughts or thoughts of hurting yourself or others.
  • Call if substance abuse increases.
  • Give yourself time to let the normal healing process unfold. If a gradual reduction in symptoms does not occur, call for further assistance.
  • When you or your family have any questions regarding what you are feeling.
  • If you notice any significant changes in normal family patterns.


  • Local community mental health centers, crisis lines and drop in clinics.
  • Because of their history, people with medical conditions, a history of trauma, physical abuse and war veterans may experience increased symptoms which will be eased by professional help.
  • Victims of Crime can receive assistance by calling (800) 877-8776


For help, call National Crisis Resource Center, 800-273-TALK (8255) or go to www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org which will direct you to a local resource center.

Disaster Distress Helpline (24/7 phone and text) The Disaster Distress Helpline (DDH) is "the first national hotline dedicated to providing year-round disaster crisis counseling. This toll-free, multilingual, crisis support service is available 24/7 via telephone (1-800-985-5990) and SMS (text 'TalkWithUs' to 66746) to residents in the U.S. and its territories who are experiencing emotional distress related to natural or man-made disasters."

Recovering Emotionally: Advice from the Red Cross

Building Your Resilience This helpful article define resilience and describes ways to improve coping skills and increase one's resilience. With appreciation to the American Psychological Association's Help Center.

This important documentary about the story of how two generations of veterans help each other find a way back is worth downloading "Leave No Soldier"


The American Group Psychotherapy Association has created blogs, articles and maintains updated information to help cope with disasters.
This free resource is available in the Outreach Resource section of the website, AGPA.org. Here is another good PTSD resource from The National Center for PTSD (NCPTSD) 


The following articles and links offer advice from the American Psychological Association's Help Center and FEMA:
Tips for Managing Your Distress Related to the Wildfires

Recovering from the Wildfires

Wildfire – Are you prepared?

FEMA has a variety of planning resources for wildfires, etc.


These resources are made available by the American Group Psychotherapy Association's specialists in group therapy with trauma survivors. It includes a listing of their Group Interventions for Treatment of Psychological Trauma.

Their popular Group Interventions for the Treatment of Psychological Trauma includes 10 modules have been used successfully by law enforcement, clinicians and non-clinicians. The modules are designed to address trauma group work with specific populations and circumstances as well as a CD including Power Point Slide Presentations for each module.


The National Child Traumatic Stress Network has helpful information for parents.

Parent Guidelines for Helping Children Impacted by Wildfires

Wildfires: Tips for Parents on Media Coverage has excellent tips and advice

Sesame Street program for parents, teachers and counselors working with children: Comforting Children in a Disaster

Helpful suggestions for parents are included in this article: Tips for Talking to Children in Trauma. Information and suggestions are included in this article: How to Deal with Grief

Parents will find this article helpful: Helping Children and Adolescents Cope with Violence and Disasters: What Parents Can Do

Disclaimer: This website is designed for educational purposes, and is not a substitute for professional medical or psychological care. If you require urgent medical or psychological services please consult a qualified professional in your area, or call 911.

Your Privacy is Important: An increasing number of therapists discourage sending confidential information over the Internet since the Patriot Act allows the reading of private emails. Additionally there may be other issues with maintaining confidentiality via the Internet. To discuss Dr. Steiner's local psychotherapy services for adults, and consultation services, please send an email to send your phone number, and a variety of times when it would be convenient for her to return your call.

Top | Home | Site Map | Mailing List | Privacy Policy | Contact

© Ann Steiner, Ph.D. All rights reserved. Reproduction without the author's written consent is prohibited.

Last Updated: September 12, 2018