What to Do After a Setback in Trauma Healing?

Trauma is a complex and deeply impactful experience that can leave lasting scars on your mental and emotional well-being. Trauma healing is a journey. Like any journey, setbacks are a natural part of the process. It’s crucial to understand that healing is not a linear path; it’s more like a winding road with ups and downs. When you experience a setback in trauma healing, of course it can be disheartening. But it’s important to remember that a setback is not a failure. In this blog post, we will explore what to do after a setback in trauma healing and how to continue on your path towards recovery.

Acknowledge Your Feelings

The first step in dealing with a setback in trauma healing is to acknowledge your feelings. It’s common to experience a wide range of emotions such as frustration, disappointment, anger, and even self-blame when you face a setback. These feelings are a natural response to the perceived interruption in your healing process. It’s essential to give yourself permission to feel and express these emotions. Bottling them up can hinder your progress and make it more challenging to move forward.

Reach Out for Support

Trauma healing can be an isolating experience, and setbacks can intensify that feeling of isolation. During such times, it’s crucial to reach out for support. Whether it’s through a therapist, support group, friends, or family, sharing your feelings and experiences with others can provide you with valuable insights and emotional support. Talking to someone who understands trauma and its effects can help you regain perspective and feel less alone in your journey.

Reevaluate Your Goals

When you encounter a setback in your trauma healing, it’s an opportunity to reevaluate your goals and expectations. Sometimes, setbacks occur because the goals we set were too ambitious or unrealistic given the current circumstances. Take a step back and reconsider what you are trying to achieve in your healing process. Are your goals still relevant and achievable? If not, adjust them to make them more attainable and sustainable.


Self-compassion is a crucial element in trauma healing, especially after a setback. Be gentle with yourself and avoid self-blame. Understand that healing is a non-linear process, and setbacks are a normal part of the journey. You are not failing, but rather, you are learning and growing. Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer to a beloved friend facing a similar challenge.

Revisit Your Coping Strategies

Setbacks can be an opportunity to reassess and fine-tune your coping strategies. Reflect on what has worked for you in the past and what hasn’t. Are there new coping mechanisms you want to explore? It’s essential to have a toolbox of healthy coping strategies to help you navigate difficult moments. These strategies might include mindfulness, grounding exercises, relaxation techniques, journaling, or physical activities like yoga or running.

Practice Patience

Patience is a virtue that is particularly relevant in trauma healing. Understand that healing takes time, and setbacks are merely temporary roadblocks. Instead of trying to rush through the process, focus on being patient with yourself and your journey. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and healing from trauma won’t happen overnight either. When caught up in impatience, one of my clients find it helpful to remind himself that “impatience is the feeling of frustration or fear plus a few unhelpful beliefs.”

Seek Professional Trauma Treatment

If your setback feels overwhelming or if you’re struggling to get back on track, it might be a good time to seek professional help. A therapist or counselor with expertise in trauma can provide you with the guidance and support you need to navigate through difficult times. A trauma therapist can offer tools and techniques tailored to your specific needs, helping you regain control and direction in your healing journey.

Beef Up Your Self-Care

Self-care is a fundamental aspect of trauma healing, and it becomes even more critical after a setback. Engage in activities and practices that nurture your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. These may include getting enough rest, eating a balanced diet, engaging in hobbies you enjoy, and spending time with loved ones. Prioritize self-compassion and be mindful of your inner dialogue. Treat yourself with the same care and kindness that everyone deserves.

Learn from the Setback

Setbacks in trauma healing can be valuable learning experiences. Take time to reflect on what led to the setback and what you can learn from it. Perhaps there were triggers or unresolved issues that you were not aware of. Identifying these can help you make necessary adjustments in your healing journey. By understanding the factors contributing to the setback, you can develop strategies to avoid similar obstacles in the future.

Stay Committed

A setback doesn’t mean you need to give up on your journey towards trauma healing. It’s a test of your commitment and determination. Stay focused on your long-term goals and the positive changes you want to make in your life. Remind yourself of the progress you’ve made so far, no matter how small, and use it as motivation to keep moving forward.

To conclude, setbacks in trauma healing are not failures. They are opportunities for growth and self-discovery. They are a natural part of the healing process and should be met with understanding, self-compassion, and resilience. By acknowledging your feelings, seeking support, reevaluating your goals, and practicing patience, you can overcome setbacks and continue your journey towards healing. Remember that healing from trauma is a journey, and every step, including setbacks, brings you closer to a place of greater strength and resilience.

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