How Do We Become Resilient After Trauma?

To be resilient means “to be able to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching, or being compressed.” When I interviewed trauma expert, Dr. Rachel Yehuda (You know Dr. Bessel van der Kolk? She’s a good friend of his!), we talked about how trauma impacts the brain. Dr. Yehuda said that after a trauma the brain needs to ‘recalibrate’. She explained that the brain’s job after being exposed to trauma is to remember what happened and develop survival plans for the future. It learns the lesson of trauma and then the brain works to bring itself to a state of homeostasis.

Dr. Yehuda also said that the experience of recalibration in the brain that can be painful. Sometimes it takes significant time and recovery efforts to help the brain completely reset and regain its recalibrated function. I think the same ideas apply to our emotional, mental and psychological ability to access resilience, too.

For me, accessing resilience had a lot to do with…

First: hoping that there was some way to get me out of PTSD hell

Second: believing that if I tried hard enough I would find the way

Third: imagining what I wanted to feel other than so completely traumatized

Once I got those three areas all working for me on both emotional and physical levels – and once I got over the fear of feeling better and committed to doing the work – my recovery began to take off. I became resilient in ways I had never expected. Ultimately, I did spring back into shape. It wasn’t the shape I’d been in before my trauma but it was a new shape, an even better shape than I might have discovered had my trauma never happened at all.

This week on YOUR LIFE AFTER TRAUMA we’ll be looking at “Resilience & Meaning After Trauma”.

How do we activate resilience after trauma? And how do we make meaning out of what we’ve survived? These are two of the most asked questions in the trauma world. For our next show we’re looking at them from a slightly different perspective than ever before – through the eyes of a best-selling author and also a survivor who is creating something out of the chaos of her life after trauma. Join us this today at 2pm EST/11amPST.


About Our Sponsor:
Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center

Timberline Knolls, a private residential treatment center for adolescent girls and women (ages 12 – 65+), offers hope, healing and recovery to women seeking treatment for eating disorders, trauma, PTSD, mood disorders, addiction, and co-occurring disorders. Highly trained professionals provide individualized clinical care in a spiritually nurturing, trauma aware treatment environment. Our picturesque 43-acre wooded campus is located in suburban Chicago.  For more information on Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center, call us at 877.257.9611. We are also onFacebook – Timberline Knolls, LinkedIn – Timberline Knolls, and recently launchedthe Timberline Knolls Treatment Blog.


The information provided on the is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational and educational purposes. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Neither the owners or employees of nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Please see our Legal Statement for further information.

PsyWeb Poll

Are you currently taking or have you ever been prescribed anti-depressants?
Total votes: 3979