As a therapist, Gretchen Schmelzer has watched far too many people quit during treatment for trauma recovery. They find it too difficult or frightening, or they decide that it's just too late for them. Schmelzer wrote Journey Through Trauma specifically for survivors to help them understand the terrain of the healing process and stay on the path.
She begins by laying out three important assumptions that support a survivor's healing: that it is possible, that it requires courage and that it cannot be done alone. Traumas that happen more than once - child abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence, gang violence, war - are all relational traumas. They are traumas that happen inside a relationship and therefore must be healed inside a relationship, whether that relationship is with a therapist or within a group.
She then guides readers through the five phases that every survivor must negotiate: Preparation, Unintegration, Identification, Integration and Consolidation. She creates a mental map of the healing process that helps survivors recognize where they are in their journey to health, see where the hard parts occur and persevere in the process of getting well. Since the cycle of healing repeated trauma is not linear, the survivor comes to understand that circling back around to a previous stage actually means progress as well as facing new challenges.
Ultimately, the healing journey is one of trust, as survivors come to trust their capacity to rely on help from others and to trust themselves and the work they have done.