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  • Writer's picturePiper Harris

Trauma Reactions: What Are They?

Updated: Jul 17, 2023

Dr. Mark Laasser

A renowned author and therapist has identified eight common reactions to trauma that people may experience. Trauma can take many forms, including physical, emotional, or psychological abuse, neglect, accidents, or natural disasters. Understanding these reactions can help individuals recognize and cope with trauma healthily.

Here are the eight trauma reactions identified by Dr. Laaser

  1. Shock and disbelief: This is a common initial reaction to trauma. People may feel numb, disoriented, or like they are in a dream.

  2. Denial: Some individuals may deny that the trauma occurred or minimize its impact. This can be a coping mechanism to avoid overwhelming emotions.

  3. Anger: People may feel angry about what happened and direct anger toward others, themselves, or God.

  4. Bargaining: This reaction involves negotiating with a higher power to reverse or undo the trauma.

  5. Depression: Individuals may feel sad, hopeless, or helpless after experiencing trauma. They may withdraw from others and lose interest in activities they once enjoyed.

  6. Acceptance: Accepting what happened and acknowledging the reality of the trauma can be a crucial step in the healing process.

  7. Integration: This involves integrating the trauma into one's life story and finding meaning or purpose in the experience.

  8. Renewal: The final stage of the trauma reaction involves moving forward and finding new hope and purpose in life.

It's important to note that not everyone will experience all of these reactions, and the order in which they occur may vary. Additionally, some individuals may experience delayed reactions to trauma, meaning they may not experience symptoms until weeks, months, or even years after the traumatic event.

Tip For Coping With Trauma

  1. Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness meditation and other mindfulness practices can help individuals stay grounded in the present moment and manage overwhelming emotions. You can find some at

  2. Connect with others: Talking to a trusted friend, family member, or therapist can provide a sense of support and validation. Joining a support group can also be helpful in connecting with others who have experienced similar traumas.

  3. Engage in physical activity: Exercise and physical activity can help reduce stress and improve mood. Even a short walk or yoga practice can be beneficial.

  4. Seek professional help: Trauma can significantly impact mental health, and seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor can provide the tools and support needed to heal.

  5. Practice self-compassion: It's important to be gentle and kind to oneself during the healing process. Practicing self-compassion involves treating oneself with the same kindness, concern, and support that one would offer to a good friend. A tool often used with clients is the Compassion Formulation; download it HERE.


Healing from trauma is a process and it can take time. It's important to be patient and kind to oneself during this process. With the right support and tools, moving forward and finding renewal is possible.

“Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health; safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives" (Van der Kolk, 2014).



Laaser, M. (2004). Healing the wounds of sexual addiction. Zondervan.

National Institute of Mental Health. (2016). Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Retrieved from

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2014). SAMHSA’s Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach. Retrieved from

Van der Kolk, B. A. (2014). The body keeps the score: Brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma. Penguin Books.


If you're struggling with the aftermath of a traumatic experience, know that you don't have to face it alone. Trauma can leave deep emotional wounds that can be difficult to heal on your own, but with the help of a qualified counselor, you can learn to overcome the pain and reclaim your life.

As a counselor, I specialize in working with individuals who have experienced trauma, and I'm committed to helping my clients find relief from their symptoms and build resilience for the future. Together, we can explore your experiences in a safe and non-judgmental environment and develop strategies to manage the difficult emotions that may arise.

Don't let trauma control your life any longer. Take the first step towards healing by reaching out to me today. With the right support and guidance, you can overcome the pain of trauma and build a brighter future.

Reach out at 770.317.1126 or email me at

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