Existential Psychiatry Blog

Instilling Hope in Trauma-Informed Care

January 4, 2024
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The beginning of a new year is often portrayed as a symbol of hope and renewal. Social media is filled with content telling you how to plan out the year, set goals, and accomplish personal growth. However, for many trauma survivors, January doesn’t bring an automatic sense of hope and a fresh start. Instead, it serves as a poignant reminder of the pain and scars they’ve endured.

If you’re a survivor, the ongoing impact of trauma may have diminished your hope. Belief in a positive future might seem elusive and unattainable. Trauma, whether it’s child abuse, domestic violence, community violence, or homelessness goes well beyond the distressing event(s). It can shift your understanding of safety and trust and foster a sense of powerlessness. When you lose faith in yourself, others, and the world around you because of traumatic experiences, recovery must involve hope-filled trauma-informed care.

The Impact of Trauma on Hope

While people often recover after distressing experiences, sometimes certain individuals aren't able to process and heal, which can affect their sense of hope and resilience. For these survivors, traumatic emotional and psychological harm can erode their belief in the goodness of the world and other people. This makes it difficult to envision a good future for themselves or view themselves in a positive light.

The absence of hope undermines resilience and often manifests as a persistent sense of despair. You may feel helplessness or struggle to cope with life's challenges. You might have difficulty finding motivation and face emptiness and apathy.

Trauma, Hope, and Relationships

The aftermath of trauma can fracture the foundation of trust essential for healthy relationships. Broken trust and emotional wounds lead to diminished hope, making it difficult to build and maintain meaningful connections.

This lack of hope for yourself, your relationships, or the future can end up harming each relationship in your life. Trauma can prompt you to pull away and create walls between you and other people. You might avoid vulnerability or conflict in relationships, causing distance and emotional withdrawal.

Trauma’s Impact on the Future

It may be intimidating to imagine your future when you’ve endured trauma. You might assume that bad things will always happen to you. You may not expect to experience joy in your life, or hold the belief that you don’t deserve to be happy. Due to the deep harm from trauma, it might feel safer to expect pain and distress instead of hope. You may not set goals for yourself or believe that personal growth and healing are possible.

Diminished Hope and Well-being

The shrapnel effects of trauma can negatively impact your health. Diminished hope contributes to increased stress, triggering elevated cortisol levels and inflammation throughout the body. Prolonged stress exposure compromises the immune system, making you more susceptible to illnesses. Enduring trauma also increases your risk of developing mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

Trauma-Informed Care and Hope

Hope plays a pivotal role in trauma-informed care, specifically therapy. It’s been found to promote recovery, reduce PTSD symptoms, improve treatment outcomes, and strengthen coping strategies.

In therapy, hope can motivate an individual to engage in treatment and envision goals and a future for themselves. Your therapist can promote hope by helping you develop coping skills, gain insight into your thought patterns, and build resilience. The therapeutic relationship itself is built on trust and empathy. This connection can become a source of hope as you feel supported and understood.

Ultimately, cultivating hope within therapy empowers you to navigate your recovery journey with a sense of agency and the belief that positive change is attainable.

How Do I Find Hope After Trauma?

Becoming a hopeful person after enduring trauma is a gradual and intentional process. It's unique to you. There is not a one size fits all treatment plan. However, there are common ways to help rekindle hope in the aftermath of trauma.

Hope-Filled Trauma Treatment | Seattle

If you’re struggling to find hope after trauma, Existential Psychiatry is here to support you. We provide compassionate trauma-informed care in the greater Seattle area and virtually across Washington.

Our lead psychiatrist, Dr. David Zacharias, works collaboratively with you to cultivate your hope and belief in the possibility of healing and growth. For over 20 years, Dr. Zacharias has worked with patients to help them rediscover a sense of hope for the future and their capacity for connection and love.

There is hope after trauma, and we’re here to help you find it. Reach out today for a free consultation.

Written by Existential Psychiatry Staff


Long, L. J. “Hope and PTSD.” Current Opinion in Psychology, December 2022. Accessed December 27, 2023.