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The Power of Community in Trauma Survivorship

The Power of Community in Trauma Survivorship

sistent across human history has been the importance of community. Safety in numbers against a predator, the sharing of resources, or simply holding space for one another are all integral to our survival. Yet, largely, our individualistic culture places emphasis on autonomy and independence. Self-care is a term used often within the context of therapy and trauma healing – and self-care is a necessary step – but often we are encouraged to lean into individual healing practices when what we need is to be reminded that we belong in the world around us.
Oftentimes we walk away from a traumatic experience with more barriers to accessing ourselves than ever before. We learn to mistrust ourselves and/or those around us; shame and guilt become the forefront of our self-talk; our emotions feel too dangerous to foray into. It is confusing to be told to access self for care when, commonly, self is difficult to find internally. Research tells us that connection to others leads to positive outcomes for trauma survivors (Goodman, Dutton, Vankos, & Weinfurt, 2005), and it tells us that even brief interactions with the world around (waving hello, for example) us are reliable mood-boosters (Santos, 2023).
So what does community care look like, and how can we engage in this type of inter-dependence on one another?

Community care at the micro level:


  1. Saying hello to a neighbor
  2. Meal prepping/cooking with a loved one
  3. Texting a friend
  4. Carpooling with a friend or colleague
  5. Checking in with your loved ones


Community care at the macro level:


  1. Participating in a community garden
  2. Community clothing swaps
  3. Group therapy spaces for processing and healing
  4. Volunteering for a cause you care about
  5. Community book clubs
  6. Participating in social activism


A reminder, too, that community care works when you receive care alongside providing it. Trauma recovery makes it difficult to remember that you, as much as your neighbor, are part of this community. Not every type of community care will be a fit for you, and that’s okay. Wherever you land, you are not alone. Healing takes place in the company of those who see and are seen by you.