There are many misconceptions about the word “trauma,” or conflicting feelings whether an individual has experienced a traumatic event in their lifetime. In addition to that, for some people the concept of collective trauma may be new. So let’s break it down.

First, let’s review back to a recent post about trauma. Then we’ll cover what collective trauma is and five ways you can cope. Trauma can occur when a life threatening event or aftermath of an event happens. Symptoms of trauma can have long term effects for the victim.

Collective trauma is trauma but on a larger scale, affecting many people simultaneously and uniquely at differing degrees. Also, collective trauma refers to the impact of a traumatic experience that affects groups of people, communities, and/or societies at large, and it can be a one time event or over the course of a long time. Collective trauma impacts many, both
directly, through experiencing the event firsthand, and indirectly, through the media.

Traumatic experiences, whether individual or collective, can lead to psychological, physiological, relational, societal and spiritual consequences that can make it hard to cope. Additionally, its important to note that how people respond to these events is unique and individual. This is why it’s important that it becomes part of the conversation in regards to mental health and overall well-being.

Examples of collective trauma include but are not limited to: mass shootings, natural disasters, pandemics, wars, community violence, poverty, genocide, discrimination, and systematic and historical oppression (racism, sexism, classism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, etc.).

How you can cope:


Rewatching the event or hearing stories about the event can trigger traumatic stress symptoms. It’s important to know your limits with the news and media when covering tragic events as it could make your symptoms worse.


Self care can come in many forms. This can include talking to a trusted friend or therapist, journaling your thoughts and feelings, practicing mindfulness, moving the body in a way that feels good to you, getting adequate sleep, water and nutrition, etc. These are just some examples as self care can look different for each person.


…within a community to remind each other that we are in this together. It’s important to find your people that you can talk to and “be real” with during times of stress and tragedy. Expressing our feelings to people who are trusted and have the emotional bandwidth to hear us can help us feel safe, heard, and supported.


…in whatever way that fits for you. Whether through the power of community, spirituality, or living by your values, each can aid in the process of recovery after a horrifying event happens.


Reaching out to a trauma informed therapist can be helpful too. There are types of therapy (EMDR and Somatic Experiencing) that can help facilitate post traumatic growth and resiliency of those experiencing collective trauma.

At Heartland Therapy Connection, all of our clinicians specialize in treating trauma and are trained in trauma therapies to help people in Kansas City heal from collective and individual trauma. Let us help you find hope and healing. Reach out to us at 816-287-0252 to get connected with us.

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