DiscoverCounselor Toolbox PodcastEnhancing Trauma Resiliency
Enhancing Trauma Resiliency

Enhancing Trauma Resiliency

Update: 2020-03-28


482 – Enhancing Trauma Resiliency

Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes, PhD, LPC-MHSP, LMHC

Executive Director, AllCEUs Counselor Education

Host: Counselor Toolbox Podcast

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Enhancing Trauma Resiliency


– Learn about the effects of acute and intergenerational trauma

– Review risk and protective factors for PTSD

– Identify strategies to enhance resiliency in persons who have experienced past trauma

Effects of Lack of Resilience from Primary and Intergenerational Trauma

– Anxiety and Depression


– Addictions

– Personality Disorders

– Relationship Issues

– Poverty / Reduced Success

– Stress Related Physical Health Problems

– Intergenerational Trauma

– Attachment Issues

– Pessimism

– Rigid Thinking

– Lack of Psychological Flexibility

Signs of Resilience

– Optimism / Pessimism

– Empowerment / Helplessness

– Flexibility / Rigidity

– Confidence / Meekness/Anxiety

– Competence / Incompetence

– Insightfulness / Lack of Insight

– Perseverance / Gives Up Easily

– Perspective / Lack of Perspective

– Self Control / Dysregulation

PTSD Risk Factors

– Age

– Developmental level

– Prior history of trauma

– Prior history of mental health or substance abuse issues (including autism and FASD)

– Number of stressors in the prior 6 months

– Availability of social support within 4/24/72 hours

– Effective problem solving & coping skills

– Effective distress tolerance skills

Protective Factors

– Psychological Flexibility

Protective Factors

– Mindfulness

– The awareness of the present moment and ones needs in the moment without judgement

– Activities

– 5-4-3-2-1

– What’s in the Room

– Word’s in a Word

– Scavenger Hunt – (i.e. All things green)

– Noticing Log

Protective Factors

– Mindfulness/Vulnerability Prevention

– Morning/Evening (Whiteboard) Mindfulness

Protective Factors

– Mindfulness

– Evening

– How do I feel physically-

– Do I have pain anywhere-

– What am I thinking about the most-

– How do I feel emotionally-

– What is one thing I am grateful for today-

– What do I need to do so I can get relaxed enough to go to sleep-

Distress Tolerance / Self Control

– Activities

– Contribute

– Comparisons (to when you were in a worse state, to how things could be worse)

– Emotions

– Push Away

– Thoughts

– Sensations

Framing/Perspective Skills

– What is the evidence for and against that fear or belief-

– Am I considering the big picture (all the factors)

– My active part

– My current situation and vulnerabilities that contributed

– Other people’s active part in it

– Transference issues

– Am I catastrophizing/confusing high and low probability events

Problem Solving Skills

– Brainstorming– (Hand drawing for children, mind-map for adults)

– Ask someone who has been through it

– How does this keep me from moving closer to my goals and what can I do about it-


– Helps people learn that things won’t always go the way they want, BUT it doesn’t mean it will be awful.

– Does not come easy to those with a “J” personality

– Identify things we need to be flexible in (vacations, workouts, job duties, relationships, time management)

– Activities

– Choices Hat (meals, vacations, television programs)

– Schedule a spontaneous day

– How many uses game (Duct tape, coconut oil, plastic shopping bags, cardboard boxes, wire coat hangers…)\

– How are you like a…. game


– Learned Optimism (Martin Seligman)

– The traumatized brain stays on alert and notices the dangers or potential threats

– Teaching people to identify the good things as well can be helpful (Hardiness, Kobasa 1979; ACT Russ Harries, Steven Hayes; DBT Marsh Linehan)

– Commitment – The current situation is unfortunate AND what other aspects of your life are you committed to which are going okay- (Dialectics, Living in the AND)

– Control—What parts of this situation can you control- What aspects of the other parts of your life are in your control-

– Challenge—In what ways can the current situation be viewed as a challenge or obstacle instead of a barrier-


– Learned Optimism (Martin Seligman)

– Activities

– Positive journaling

– Gratitude (wall, tree, branch)


– Activities

– Learn about others like you who have overcome challenges

– Break big tasks into small steps

– Give credit where credit is due. “I did that” wall

– Make a “My support” list

– Make sure not to put all your eggs in one basket.

Confidence and Competence

– When people feel incompetent and lack confidence, the world seems much more threatening and they can feel more helpless.

– Signature strengths

– Ad campaign

– Body Poster / Collage

– “Biography”

– Who I look up to…

– Personal scrapbook of accomplishments

– Emotional/Courage/Perseverance/Dedication

– Physical

– Mental/Occupational/Creativity/Hobbies

– Interpersonal/Friendship/Patience/Advocacy

– Spiritual

Confidence and Competence

– Signature strengths

– Goals Workbook

– My Goal

– Why I want it

– What could stand in my way

– How I can deal with that

– The steps to get it


– From a young age it can be difficult to keep going in the face of adversity, especially if you are already stressed and feeling disempowered.

– Activities

– Scaffolding (Tying shoes, doing laundry, reading a book)

– For adults–Mentorship

– Chunk It

– Decisional Balance

Social Support and Connectedness

– Social support is a great resource when trauma knocks people off balance

– Developing Connectedness

– Participate in hobby groups

– Join clubs, faith organizations

– Put effort into developing realtionships


– Trauma can enhance feelings of disconnectedness, helplessness and anxiety.

– Trauma impacts people emotionally, mentally, physically, interpersonally, occupationally

– By helping people develop trauma resiliency we can assist them in preventing PTSD after a trauma and breaking the cycle of intergenerational trauma









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Enhancing Trauma Resiliency

Enhancing Trauma Resiliency

Charles Snipes