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What Trauma Looks Like: Maladaptive behaviours.

Updated: Nov 30, 2023


Different maladaptive behaviours that result from trauma, what trauma behaviours can look like. The effects of trauma
Trauma-induced Maladaptive Behaviours: What Trauma Looks Like

The effects of Trauma are sometimes more obvious that you think. The wheel shows us what trauma can actually LOOK like. You can also think of them as your trauma-induced. If you happen to identify any of these behaviours in someone you care about, or in yourself, take a trip down memory lane and try this Reflection Exercise:


1) When it started.
2) What was happening around the time it started.
3) Recognise the trauma and the struggles one went through.
4) Reflect on what the behaviour served you/the person at that time.
5) Show that person (the past self) some compassion, some love, some forgiveness.
6) Return your reflection to the present.
7) How does the behaviour serve you/the person now?
8) Is there harm caused to the self or others? If so, what are they?
9) Decide on whether to continue or contemplate a change.

Recognizing the effects of trauma or what trauma looks like is important. These trauma-induced behaviours are clearly maladaptive, which means that they are not healthy adaptive coping behaviours or strategies. They can soothe the emotional distress almost immediately but not in a sustainable way.


You might even notice how some of the trauma-induced behaviours are addictive. This is typically due to relational PTSD or complex PTSD/CPTSD, many of which occur in childhood.


The above is a 9 step-by-step thought process key towards self-awareness, acceptance, and change.


Writing the answers down somewhere can represent commitment to reflection and change, and also serves as a reference when we lose motivation and get side-tracked.

Trauma recovery is not linear, it depends on how long you have had these behaviours and how your environment enables these trauma responses
Trauma recovery is not linear

This exercise can be done collaboratively with a professional. Your trauma therapist will be able to gently guide you through the thought process and hold your emotions, as it can be rather daunting to face alone. Furthermore, addressing your trauma responses can also bring about other emotions regarding those behaviours. These emotions can be shame or self-blame around engaging in self-destructive behaviours. It is important to confront your trauma responses with non-judgmental people and professionals. You do not have to confront your demons alone, BUT you DO have to confront them if you are going to defeat them.


Therefore, a trauma counsellor plays a crucial role in helping clients navigate the challenges associated with traumatic experiences. Their primary responsibilities include:

  • Establishing a safe and trusting client-therapist relationship

  • Providing you with emotional support and validation

  • Assessing and addressing the psychological of your individual needs

  • Developing and implementing personalised treatment plans to help manage trauma

  • Facilitating the understanding of your trauma and its impact on your life and the people around you

  • Teaching you coping strategies and resilience-building techniques

  • Psychoeducation

If you are able to do the 9-Step reflection exercise independently, the following step, Step 10, would require commitment, strategy, and support for change. The effects of your trauma, or the trauma-induced maladaptive behaviours can be minimized and even stopped, but it requires you to do things differently. Remember that trauma recovery is not linear, it depends on how long you have had these maladaptive behaviours and how your environment enables these trauma responses to continue. It also depends on your motivation to change and the meaning change holds for you.


Think about the right people and environment to surround yourself with, and seek out for a therapist who can meet your specific needs.


You are welcome to book an appointment with me to discuss your trauma responses and your recovery.


Source of image: unknown.


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