It’s not always easy to tell trauma survivors in the midst of deep suffering that one day they’ll find meaning in what happened to them. We know that early on in therapy, beginning to discuss topics like abuse or neglect can be extremely stressful.

But according to Lisa Ferentz, author of Treating Self-Destructive Behaviors in Traumatized Clients, the first session is exactly when you want to introduce the possibility that one day your client will not only be able to make sense of their trauma, but even grow from it.

In this brief video clip, Lisa explains her rationale behind telling trauma survivors they’ll bounce back and find meaning in their trauma.

At the very beginning of therapy, Ferentz tells clients that together they’re “planting a seed” for their emergence from traumatic experiences, with a new perspective on life. “I say this to everybody,” she says, “because I never want to make an assumption about the ability of my clients to grow and heal. Clients can continually surprise us with how they work through the most horrific trauma.”

Rich Simon

Richard Simon, PhD, founded Psychotherapy Networker and served as the editor for more than 40 years. He received every major magazine industry honor, including the National Magazine Award. Rich passed away November 2020, and we honor his memory and contributions to the field every day.

Lisa Ferentz

Lisa Ferentz, LCSW-C, DAPA, is a recognized expert in the strengths-based, de-pathologized treatment of trauma and has been in private practice for more than 35 years. She presents workshops and keynote addresses nationally and internationally, and is a clinical consultant to practitioners and mental health agencies in the United States, Canada, the UK and Ireland. In 2009 she was voted the “Social Worker of Year” by the Maryland Society for Clinical Social Work. Lisa is the author of Treating Self-Destructive Behaviors in Trauma Survivors: A Clinician’s Guide, 2nd Edition (Routledge, 2014)Letting Go of Self-Destructive Behaviors: A Workbook of Hope and Healing (Routledge, 2014), and Finding Your Ruby Slippers: Transformative Life Lessons From the Therapist’s Couch (PESI, 2017).