When a member of a family suffers a traumatic event, they’re not the only ones that are affected. As a cohesive unit that interacts on a regular basis, the effects of trauma can spread throughout the family. For those who still share a residence with the one who was affected by the trauma, the results can be even more dramatic. Shared trauma, in this instance, is known as vicarious trauma and can have serious consequences for the family if left unaddressed. With counseling and the help of a qualified therapist, families can come through vicarious trauma even stronger than before.
The Insidious Effects Of Vicarious Traumas
Traumatic events, by their very nature, can be difficult and messy things to process. Trauma that occurs to a member of a close-knit family can create situations that require help to navigate. Every member of a family can be impacted by the traumatic event, even if they themselves were not directly involved. Working through this situation requires that every member of the family demonstrate compassion and a willingness to do the hard work of recovery. Without taking these steps, wedges can be driven in the family dynamic that can take years to unravel if they ever are.
- Adults, Adolescents, And Children – There is no member of the family that isn’t in danger of being affected by this kind of trauma. Some members may respond by immersing themselves even further in life, others may withdraw, and others may act out.
- Extended Family – Extended family members can be an incredibly important source of support throughout these trying times. However, trauma can reach its fingers even into extended families, depending on its nature. Coming together can help the entire family recover from the traumatic experience.
- Parental Relationships – Family trauma often results in parent-child relationships becoming strained or dissolved. Depending on the specific nature of the trauma, these relationships can be incredibly difficult to repair without help. In cases where one family member becomes emotionally withdrawn, the child may end up feeling as if they were abandoned.
- Intimate Adult Relations – Adult relationships aren’t immune to the effects of vicarious trauma. In fact, the consequences of experiencing this kind of trauma can run deep and touch on every aspect of the relationship. Without addressing these concerns, a deep divide can form that can cause further trauma to the family.
- Sibling Relationships – Relationships between siblings can be powerful things. Having grown up together, the potential for mutual support is immense, but so is the potential for trouble. Without addressing the trauma directly, siblings may find themselves at odds instead of supporting each other.
A Qualified Therapist Can Help Your Family
The first and arguably most critically vital step in overcoming vicarious trauma is seeking the help of a qualified therapist. Finding one that specializes in family trauma will ensure that they have the knowledge and techniques necessary to help your family recover. Even with this help, the road will be long and complicated, but together you can find serenity again.