Reframing a Patient’s Response to Trauma so They Can Heal

When a trauma occurs, our bodies simply react.

But sometimes, when the body immobilizes in the face of trauma, this shutdown response can leave some trauma survivors (and even their loved ones) wondering why they didn’t “do” more to protect or defend themselves . . .

. . . and often, this feeling of helplessness or “failure” that results only gets in the way of healing.

But according to Stephen Porges, PhD, there’s a way to help patients reframe their perspective so they can shake off the lingering sense of shame that sometimes accompanies unresolved trauma.

Check out the video clip (below) for more – it’s just 4 minutes.

Click here to sign up.

Stephen is probably best known for his groundbreaking Polyvagal Theory, and how we can apply it in our clinical work to help patients “reset” their nervous system following trauma and begin to see their lives open back up.

To learn about the Polyvagal Theory, along with many other theories associated with the treatment of trauma, just click here.

Have you ever helped a patient reframe his or her response to trauma? Please share your experience in the comments.


Please Leave A Comment



  1. Lisbeth Møllegaard says:

    Looking forward to that interesting theme

  2. Sharon Hepburn says:

    I live in the UK. i have just discovered this site and because of this probably missed the free broadcast from Stephen Porges. Can you tell if there is a way to access this.


  3. Divora Stern LCSW Energy Psychology says:

    Dr Steven Porges body of work is used in TRE Tension/Trauma Prevention Exercises. It’s an AMAZING healing modality! I perform this over skype with basically stable people, not the seriously mentally ill. I do see seriously mentally ill folks in person at one of my offices, where I can handle the wide emotional reactions, live in person. My interesting mix is I take the spiritually and alternatively open clients into a process first, clearing, cleaning & opening the chakras and aura’s BEFORE performing TRE for MOCK SPEED RESULTS. To be clear combining science with woo woo.

  4. Catherine, artist, canada says:

    Shame and what the body believes…

  5. Astrid Brandt retired Grahamstown South Africa says:

    I would love to become a gold member but with the exchange rate it works out at twice my monthly pension woul be nice if u could keep each webinar open to the public for 24 hours after broadcast. I’m a trauma victim and i’m still battling to deal with it after 50 years

  6. Sandi, Pastoral Counselor, Chico, CA says:

    I look forward to learning more about how I can be present and a healing partner for people who have suffered trauma. Thank you for your resources.

  7. lori says:

    Not a. Professional but interested in hearing webinar.

    • Boss says:

      I thought I’d have to read a book for a diervoscy like this!

  8. Suzanne Kennedy, Student, North Carolina says:

    This is extraordinary. When my youngest brother died, it was a tragedy for me. I watched a youtube with the Four Tops playing a song, “Just ask the Lonely” but the video was a slideshow of people who had suffered a loss while this song played. Their body language was so extraordinary at their loss, it was like I was seeing myself in a hugh mirror, shut down and not wanting to have anything to do with life, because of the loss of my youngest brother whom I loved so much. Because of this great loss, I was at a total loss and just shut down. I didn’t care about anything.

  9. Martha Woods, support group for trauma says:

    A year or two ago a bullied workplace Target was planning to take his gun to work, shoot his boss and then himself. I contacted law enforcement and we tried unsuccessfully to figure out who he was. He picked a state different than his own to rant on the internet from a public computer.

    He had NO access to mental health care. He didn’t even have a home by this point. Social services would only pay for food stamps.

    In case you think he was a 20 yr old seething testosterone, he was not. He was a middle aged civil servant with two decades of conscientious service and excellent evaluations. His good career was destroyed by fabricated evidence, and his mental health was destroyed by being in an abusive work environment for a long time. He had no prior history of mental illness before his PTSD diagnosis.

    It would have been better if he had lost a limb.

    Who do you think should pay for his mental health care? Should the taxpayer pay? Should you, as practitioners, donate your services to him? Either of these scenarios could protect a community from a shooting. But are they the best answers?

    Employers often know or suspect they have a supervisor who targets staff, but the easiest thing to do is to “sit it out” because sooner or later the Target quits or is fired. It is the decision that costs the least amount of management’s time. This is how schools used to treat bullying, by “sitting it out” until the bullied student quits or graduates.

    ALL states have shunned bullying legislation, even for the most extreme cases, because the pro business community fights it. We need YOU as practitioners to weigh in. You are the only group with professional credibility that can speak to legislators about the damage these victims suffer.

    As the law stands a supervisor can target you overtly and with impunity, as long as they’re careful not to mention a protected group.

    We need a law, at least to cover the worst behavior.

    A good resource is the Workplace Bullying Institute, run by Gary and Ruth Namie in Bellingham, Washington. There you can find recent research and strategies for people who want to help. If you have any ideas I would like to know.

    We look forward to a day when the Bully feels ashamed of their behavior, not the Target. Please contact me. 253-32 six-4 four 85 or post a follow up message.

    • Carolyn Budd-writer says:

      My husband just had a unique experience on this issue of bullying in the workplace. He works on an industrial, construction team as an industrial electrician.
      A man on the job was a known bully and swore at people–including the crew foremen.

      This was ignored by everyone–except that the men were “shut down”–so my husband addressed the problem when the foremen would not–or the shop steward. Of course he was targeted and except for one man all the rest avoided eye contact and would not speak or sit with him.
      On the last day of his last shift the General Foreman asked at a safety meeting for the men to write down any concerns or complaints they had. My husband told the story of this bully and his friend said that the bully was toxic to the crew–etc.

      For the first time ever in his 26 year career something was done!! The bully was fired and his comrade in arms quit.
      Apparently the bully and friend had been wanting a lay off so they could collect benefits for a year. The management chose not to reward the bad behavior but fired the man instead.

      Usually the bad behavior is ignored or sometimes even rewarded! This was a first.

      • Martha Woods, support group for trauma says:

        The behavior you describe your husband experienced is horrible indeed! Workplace Bullying subsumes this behavior and also includes work sabotage, falsified and fabricated negative performance information, having the rest of the staff pick on the Target (often called mobbing – good word for it) and public shaming, humiliation, embarassment and more.

        To give you some ideas how diverse and extreme the behavior is, here are some examples:

        Bully took all the kitchen appliances and placed them in Target’s cubicle and announced to the unit of 18 that the Target’s cubicle was the “kitchen” creating a constant flow of foot traffic in and out of the cubicle.

        Bully heard the Target say “what flavor” over the phone and documented the Target was talking to an ethnic male and asking him what flavor he was, referring to his ethnicity, and added “I like chocolate, lick lick” Target got an exhonerating statement from the caller but to no avail. Bully just insisted Target got a friend to lie. She then created many documents stating the Target was racially inappropriate with sexual innuendo. Target had been talking to a white female about ice cream.

        Bully would not allow Target to go to the bathroom when she needed to and during her 15 minute break Bully ordered other staff to occupy the only bathroom so she couldn’t use it.

        Bully kicks Target out of the building during lunch time. Other staff can eat together at their desks and play puzzles together in the puzzle room. Bully even kicked Target out when there was a formal luncheon and Target was invited and paid up front for her lunch. Target lost that money because she was not allowed to partake of the food she paid for.

        This behavior goes further than the bad construction employee’s behavior. Bullying also means work sabotage, falsified and fabricated evidence, and usually the Target is subjected to a different behavior every day, and sometimes every hour.

  10. Joni Ramsey Licensed Professional Counselor says:

    Looking forward to this! Thank you!

  11. Donna Bunce MSW & trauma survivor says:

    I remember being frozen as a little one who was overwhelmed psychologically and physically. We our magnificent beings!! Thank You~ Namaste

  12. Elisa says:

    I am interested about trauma discussions and help others to heal themselves thank you .

  13. Inge Soekardi Holland Europe says:

    it is this supporting vision that you put in the best defense mechanisme you have as victom. It reliefs. Shame is a big issue.

  14. Isabella Mancuso says:

    YES. Thank you!!
    It is usually others response after the traumatic event, saying you asked for it because you did not fight….the body/mind instictively KNOWS how to respond in crisis situations. The trauma has left a violation of self and when others (even with the best intentions of helping) come in and violate more your sense of survival at the time by telling you what you did “wrong” it can seep into the holes left by the trauma and wreak havoc with self image!!

  15. Annie, houstom says:

    Signing up for webinar

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