The Challenge of Confronting Trauma: Understanding the Barriers to Healing

Trauma produces invisible scars that linger for decades–even forever when it is not properly addressed and treated. Even when everyone does everything right, the pain of trauma from the past can linger for many years because the process of healing is not the same as it is with a physical injury.

When you scrape your knee or even break an arm, dealing with it is more or less boilerplate. You can go to a hospital and the doctors and nurses will know exactly what to do. They will have seen cases like yours before, they will see them again.

Emotional trauma is different. There are far too many variables to produce singular solutions. In this article, we provide an overview of confronting emotional trauma, including what barriers make it difficult to heal.


Social attitudes regarding mental health awareness and proactiveness have developed in a generally positive, though gradual incline over the last seventy years or so. It began first with the basic acceptance of the fact that mental health concerns were a legitimate and treatable aspect of overall wellness.

Institutions began to recede in favor of clinical treatments that allowed people suffering from mental health problems to lead mostly normal lives. Since then, acceptance has only improved. Now, it is not only mainstream but highly encouraged for people to acknowledge and address their mental and emotional needs.

That doesn’t necessarily make it an easy thing to do. Treating trauma requires patients to acknowledge and work through some of the most difficult periods of their lives. Sometimes, it will require them to divulge things to strangers that they haven’t even told close friends and family members.

The idea of actively working through trauma is a significant barrier that many people never successfully overcome. Social proof is one way to become more comfortable with the process of mental health treatment. If you are hesitant to seek psychiatric care, start by doing a little bit of research. You’ll most likely find many case studies reflecting positive outcomes experienced by people in situations similar to your own.

Lack of Awareness

Not everyone who is struggling with stress, anxiety, or other mental health concerns necessarily even links their current experiences to past trauma. After all, stress, anxiety, and depression are common to the point that virtually everyone knows someone who is suffering from them. How can you tell if your mental health challenges are just the result of working too much, or if they stem from a more serious personal tragedy?

Unfortunately, the answer to that question is not always easy to figure out. If you are experiencing consistent unhappiness, it is a good idea to consider the services of a mental health professional. They will be able to explore your feelings through clinically supported approaches that will improve your quality of life over time— even if your negative feelings do not owe to past trauma.

Lack of Access to Quality Care

Sometimes, people want to get psychiatric care but they lack the literal means to do so. Some barriers to care are financial. Mental health is not always a guaranteed facet of health insurance— especially not to the same extent that physical health requirements are covered. Because therapy appointments may take place weekly, or even multiple times a week, it means the patient may wind up paying a lot of money, even if their copay per appointment is relatively modest.

The other barrier? A lack of options. Some communities may have only several mental health professionals to choose from. If you don’t wind up clicking with the professionals in your area, you are either required to grin and bear it or find out-of-town support.

Telehealth applications have begun to alleviate both concerns. They tend to be more affordable than traditional mental healthcare services, and they provide patients with significantly more options. While not everyone connects with remote healthcare services as completely as they would with a face-to-face encounter, it can be an important lifeline for people who lack other options.

How to Process Trauma At Home

While it is important to seek mental health assistance right away if you are dealing with depression, anxiety, or other mental health struggle, there are steps you can take at home that will improve your quality of life.

Mindfulness activities are a good way to feel at peace during times of emotional stress. Most anxiety is caused by what professionals call “past or future orientation.” In other words, you are almost always upset by something that happened in the past, or you are worried will happen in the future. Mindfulness teaches participants how to dwell comfortably in the present.

You can also work on introducing healthier lifestyle factors that will improve your overall quality of life. Regular exercise and proper nutrition will improve your physical health which will also improve your state of mind. Meanwhile, good habits like regular mental stimulation, consistent contact with other humans, and plenty of time outside, trigger serotonin responses in your brain.

This is the chemical that is responsible for feelings of peace and relaxation. While these may sound like small steps, they add up to a lifestyle that is designed to leave you feeling happy and at peace. For more specific recommendations, speak with your healthcare provider about ways you can take a complete approach to maximizing your health and wellness.


It’s not easy dealing with past pain. The only thing harder than being proactive in dealing with trauma is doing nothing to handle the situation at all. No one benefits from suffering in silence.

If you or a loved one experienced traumatic circumstances in the past it is important to speak with a mental health professional. They will be able to help you process your feelings, and provide you with tools that will make it easier to constructively manage your emotions.