Coping Skills for Trauma


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Coping skills

Select the one that fits you best:





This page lists positive coping skills for difficult times.

Essentially taking an active role in your healing ('approach coping') is better than taking a passive role or avoiding the problem. Approach/tackle coping means learning about your condition (be it PTSD or other), learning coping skills, and seeking social support. Things not to do are going into denial, self blame, and partying too hard. Those are called avoidance coping and they keep you from healing more quickly. (Bloks et al., 2004)

Other helpful things that researchers recommend are activities such as moderate exercise, information seeking and relaxation. (Broder, 1996)


Positive coping skills

Grounding Techniques


'Try to notice where you are, your surroundings including the people, the sounds like the t.v. or radio.

Concentrate on your breathing. Take a deep cleansing breath from your diaphragm. Count the breaths as you exhale. Make sure you breath slowly so you don't hyperventilate.

Mentally remind yourself that the memory was then, and it is over. Give yourself permission to not think about it right now.

Hold something that you find comforting, for some it may be a stuffed animal or a blanket. Notice how it feels in your hands. Is it hard or soft?

During a non-crisis time make a list of positive affirmations. Print them out and keep them handy for when you are having a flashback. During a flashback read the list out loud.

Go online and talk with an online friend. Write an email.

Imagine yourself in a safe place. Feel the safety and know it.'


Coping skills for staying in the present

"Here’s the 54321 “game.” NOTE: If this doesn’t work to bring someone up out of a dissociative state, that’s okay. The key is also distraction. if you or someone you’re helping, looks around the room enough, sometimes that is enough to bring someone back into the present. If not, well then at least it can keep someone distracted if they are feeling like self-injuring.

  • Name 5 things you can see in the room with you.

  • Name 4 things you can feel (“chair on my back” or “feet on floor”)

  • Name 3 things you can hear right now (“fingers tapping on keyboard” or “tv”)

  • Name 2 things you can smell right now (or, 2 things you like the smell of)

  • Name 1 good thing about yourself."



"After you’ve done your meditation and breathing exercises, you can visualize a “safe place.” Whatever safe place is special to you. For me, it’s a local park where we go on picnics and feed a cat and some ducks. I visualize myself in the park, all alone. Then I visualize a “container.” For me, this is usually a purple box. I imagine that I am putting the memories, or whatever was causing me mental pain at the time, into the box."



Breathing methods

"The great thing about having a range of breathing 'tools' is that you have something to do when feeling anxious - rather than remaining passive. "



Coping with PTSD- what to do

Positive coping actions: Learning about trauma and PTSD, Talking to another person for support, Talking to your doctor about trauma and PTSD, Practicing relaxation methods, Increasing positive distracting activities, Calling a counselor for help, Taking prescribed medications to tackle PTSD.

(1) seeking relevant information and using intellectual resources effectively; (2) obtaining reassurance and emotional support from concerned friends, family, and experts deemed competent to provide help; (3) learning injury-related procedures; (4) setting practical goals; and (5) rehearsing alternative outcomes. (Ball, 1982)




"Creating Physical Boundaries

  • Hold your belly in or hold a set of your muscles taut.

  • Feel a wall or bubble around yourself that keeps out what you want.

  • Feel your energy or sense of strength.

  • Feel yourself being tall or getting taller.

  • Cross your arms or legs.

  • Move to a location where you feel stronger or more protected.

  • Experiment with changing your posture to a position where you feel grounded and empowered.

  • Wear clothes or accessories that make you feel better, more protected or stronger.

  • Be aware of colors that give you strength or a sense of confidence."

"Creating Cognitive Boundaries

  • Remember the best time to gain control of panic, anger or fear is early, before it gets really going!

  • Consciously think about how you feel and what you need to say.

  • Visualize a barrier around negative emotions.

  • See a barrier or wall between you and what you want to keep out.

  • Visualize a protective bubble around you.

  • Image or even verbalize that you now have control over your body, boundaries and the abuser.

  • Assert boundaries out loud to your abuser (without them there).

  • Visualize yourself as strong and empowered."



Seeing things in a better light... A Cognitive Restructuring Worksheet

It was not your fault.

When you are feeling illogical (conterfactual) thoughts fill out this worksheet. This is intended to help with negative thought patterns and self blame. Rape is never the victim's fault.

Also see: the worksheet from The Courage to Heal (The Courage to Heal Workbook. Laura Davis. pp 257-260) on understanding it was not your fault.




Information, Resources and Therapist Listings from Sidran's Help Desk



PANIC: This is NOT a Catastrophe



Ask your therapist to teach you:

EMDR needs meeting skills for self esteem


Safe place

more about safe place:

"Creating An Imaginary Safe Place

  • Image a safe place — it can be a real or imaginary place:

  • What do you see — especially colors?

  • What sounds do you hear?

  • What sensations do you feel?

  • What smells do you smell?

  • What people or animals would you want in your safe place?

  • Imagine a protective bubble, wall or boundary around your safe place.

  • Imagine a door or gate with a guard at your safe place.

  • Image a lock and key to your safe place and only you can unlock it.

  • You can draw or make a collage that represents your safe place.

  • Choose a souvenir of your safe place — a color, an object, a song.

  • Keep your image of your safe place so you can come back to it when you need to.

  • Make a relaxation tape of your safe place (This can be combined with breath."

"Needs are met by three Resource ego states, a Nurturing Adult Self, a Protective Adult Self, and a Spiritual Core Self. These Resources assume a competent caregiver role... together these three Resources form a wonderful container called a Healing Circle. Wounded child parts are invited inside the circle, and asked what they need most now. The Resources are able to meet that need. Then they are asked what else is needed and the Resources meet that need too. " What is EMDR? Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy



Five different techniques for anxiety management

"Anxiety management involves learning several skills that will help you cope better with PTSD symptoms...Some people use anxiety management techniques to help control anxiety while they do exposure therapy. Five different techniques for anxiety management are:

- Breathing training
- Relaxation
- Assertiveness training
- Positive thinking and self-talk
- Thought stopping"

Coping skills for sexual assault survivors include:

"learning skills for coping with anxiety (such as breathing retraining or biofeedback) and negative thoughts ("cognitive restructuring"), managing anger, preparing for stress reactions ("stress inoculation"), handling future trauma symptoms, addressing urges to use alcohol or drugs when trauma symptoms occur ("relapse prevention"), and communicating and relating effectively with people (social skills or marital therapy). " A National Center for PTSD Fact Sheet

Coping Skills from The Joyful Heart Foundation




Cognitive Restructuring - scroll down




Stress Management

Techniques from The Relaxation & Stress Reduction WorkBook 5th edition
By Martha Davis, Ph.D., Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman, MSW, Matthew McKay, Ph.D.

  • Re-Setting Mood

Think of these feelings, and try to switch to a different feeling than what you are experiencing now.
Awe – Really great
Amusement – Delight
Gratitude – Truly grateful for a gift
Hope – More than one possible outcome
Love – Deep sense of connection
Joy – Big happiness
Interest – Positive mood, engaged state
Inspiration – Presence of some change
Serenity - Deep sense of peacefulness and calm
Pride – Did a good job

  • You are the blue sky

Not every feeling represents a reality.
In a moment of stress – picture yourself as the sunny blue sky. Any difficult thoughts or feelings are the clouds passing by. They are temporary, and will be gone soon.

  • Visualization of light and warmth

There is purifying warm light (like sunshine) coming down from the sky.

  • Ball of light

Imagine a purifying warm ball of light and love between your eyebrows, and expanding outwards.

  • Key Word or Phrase

A phrase that is the opposite of your problem, and is your end goal.
Example: Calm and Clear

  • Staircase or path to a special place

Count each step up to the special place. With each step you become more relaxed. In this place you feel total peace and safety. This can be a meadow, beach, or mountain. Notice the colors, sounds, smells, and how the air feels.
If you are at the beach – make sure you can hear the waves crashing, and feel the water gently washing over you.

  • Five Finger Exercise for Relaxation

Touch your thumb to your index finger, and remember a time when you were healthy, but tired from exercise (in a good way).
Touch your thumb to your middle finger, and go back to a moment in which you felt love.
Touch your thumb to your ring finger, and recall the nicest compliment you have received.
Touch your thumb to your little finger, and imagine being in the most beautiful place you have ever been. Dwell there for a while.

  • Changing Channels/ Stopping Unwanted Thoughts

Use a pre-rehearsed visualization to block the return of any unwanted thoughts. You can use scenes from a vacation or an imaginary place.

  • Autogenic Breathing

Take slow, deep breaths.
Visualize a beach. See the waves rolling up the sand, and seagulls, and clouds. Hear the waves, and then hear quiet. Feel the warm sand, and the sun on your body. Feel surrounded by warmth and comfort.
As you inhale, say “warm”, and as you exhale, say “calm”.

  • In Vivo Coping Skills

Preparation – prepare for the upcoming task
Confronting –focus on goal.
Coping with fear – Use anxiety as a cue to relax. I can feel anxious and still deal with this situation.
Reinforcing success – I did it! I was able to cope with anxiety and do a good job. I can relax now.

  • Worksheet

Situation -> Stressful Emotion -> Appropriate Emotion
Activating event (that upsets you):______________________
Rational ideas:______________________________________
Irrational ideas:_____________________________________
Alternative thoughts:_________________________________

Alternative emotions:_________________________________

  • Mantra

I am safe and calm.



Video and audio coping skills

Sample video on yoga

Relaxation audio



Coping strategies

Types of good and bad coping strategies



Approach or avoidance coping skills and sexual abuse - type those words into the search box at


Coping skills bibliography


The Trauma of Sexual Assault : Treatment, Prevention and Practice


The Rape Recovery Handbook: Step-By-Step Help for Survivors of Sexual Assault

by Aphrodite, Ph.D. Matsakis


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Second Edition: Basic Principles, Protocols, and Procedures

by Francine Shapiro


EMDR : The Breakthrough Therapy for Overcoming Anxiety, Stress, and Trauma by Francine Shapiro, Margot Silk Forrest

"EMDR, or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, is a new, nontraditional, very short-term therapy for treating trauma victims that utilizes rhythmical stimulation such as eye movements or hand taps"





Recommended coping skills are called:

Approach coping strategies- the use of moderate exercise (unless you have an eating disorder), information seeking, and relaxation. These types of coping skills are described below.

Not recommended are:

Avoidance coping strategies- antisocial behavior, "partying" behavior, and substance use mediates the effect of stressors on increased psychological symptoms. Self blame and denial are also considered avoidance coping skills. (Broder, 1996) These types of coping skills inhibit healing.


Chesney, M., Neilands, T., Chambers, D., Taylor, J., & Folkman, S. (2006). British Journal of Health Psychology, 11 (3), p 421-437.

Positive coping methods listed were:

"Table 1. CSE scale: standardized exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and confirmatory factor analysis
(CFA) loadings
Study 1 Study 2
Use problem-focused coping
Break an upsetting problem down into smaller parts .89 .87 .83
Sort out what can be changed, and what cannot be changed .86 .80 .75
Make a plan of action and follow it when confronted with a problem .85 .85 .80
Leave options open when things get stressful .80 .77 .82
Think about one part of the problem at a time .71 .78 .79
Find solutions to your most difficult problems .68 .78 .75
Resist the impulse to act hastily when under pressurise .61 – –

Try other solutions to your problems if your first solutions don’t work .54 – –
Talk positively to yourself .49 – –
Stand your ground and fight for what you want .48 – –
See things from other person’s point of view during a heated argument .46 – –
Develop new hobbies or recreations .29 – –
Stop unpleasant emotions and thoughts
Make unpleasant thoughts go away .97 .91 .88
Take your mind off unpleasant thoughts .89 .81 .80
Stop yourself from being upset by unpleasant thoughts .86 .89 .91
Keep from feeling sad .73 .78 .82
Keep from getting down in the dumps .55 – –
Look for something good in a negative situation .52 – –
Keep yourself from feeling lonely .44 – –
Visualize a pleasant activity or place .36 – –
Pray or meditate .29 – –
Get support from friends and family
Get friends to help you with the things you need .94 .95 .92
Get emotional support from friends and family .76 .73 .79
Make new friends .58 .63 .63
Do something positive for yourself when you are feeling discouraged .42 – –
Get emotional support from community organizations or resources .22 – –"


Littleton, H. & Breitkopf, C. (2006). COPING WITH THE EXPERIENCE OF RAPE. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 30 (1), p106-116.

"The coping strategies that a victim of a rape engages in can have a strong impact on the development and persistence of psychological symptoms. Research provides evidence that victims who rely heavily on avoidance strategies, such as suppression, are less likely to recover successfully than those who rely less heavily on these strategies. The present study utilized structural path analysis to identify predictors of avoidance coping following rape and examined factors in the assault itself (e.g., force, alcohol use), sequelae of the assault (e.g., self-blame, loss of self-worth), and social support as potential direct and indirect predictors of avoidance coping. From a sample of 1,253 university women, the responses of 216 women who endorsed an experience of rape were examined. Results suggested that sequelae of the assault such as feelings of self-blame and negative reactions received from others are potentially important predictors of avoidance coping. Implications of the results for future rape recovery research are discussed."


Littleton, H., Breitkopf, C. (2006). Coping with the experience of rape. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 30(1), pp. 106-116.


"Research provides evidence that victims who rely heavily on avoidance strategies, such as suppression, are less likely to recover successfully than those who rely less heavily on these strategies. The present study utilized structural path analysis to identify predictors of avoidance coping following rape and examined factors in the assault itself (e.g., force, alcohol use), sequelae of the assault (e.g., self-blame, loss of self-worth), and social support as potential direct and indirect predictors of avoidance coping. "


Frazier, P., Mortensen, H., Steward, J. (2005). Coping Strategies as Mediators of the Relations Among Perceived Control and Distress in Sexual Assault Survivors. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 52(3), pp. 267-278.


"Past control (behavioral self-blame) was associated with more distress partly because it was associated with greater social withdrawal. Present control (control over the recovery process) was associated with less distress partly because it was associated with less social withdrawal and more cognitive restructuring."


Moos, R. (1997). Assessing approach and avoidance: Coping skills and their determinants and outcomes. Indian Journal of Clinical Psychology, 24(1), pp. 58-64.


"Describes the development and psychometric characteristics of the Coping Responses Inventory (CRI), which assesses eight types of approach and avoidance coping responses among adults and youth. To illustrate some of the research applications of measuring coping responses, findings from longitudinal studies of adaptation among distressed and healthy individuals and two case reports (a 23-yr-old female in an abusive relationship and a 16-yr-old with an unplanned pregnancy) are reviewed. One relatively consistent finding is that individuals who rely more on approach and less on avoidance coping tend to experience better health and well-being. Applications of the work for clinicians and program evaluators are noted and issues for future research on stress and coping theory are considered."



Broder, B. (1996). Adolescent stress and styles of coping: Predictors and moderators of psychological distress. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, 57(5-B), pp. 3126.


"The present study hypothesized that the effect of coping on the relationship between life events (stressors) and psychological symptoms (distress) in adolescence depends on the type of coping skills used, specifically that avoidance coping skills mediate, and approach coping skills buffer or moderate, this relationship. As part of a large community-based prevention trial, a random sample of 9th, 10th and 11th grade students was administered a self-report survey that included life events, coping strategies, and psychological symptoms (anxiety, depression, and somatic complaints). Using baseline and one year follow-up data, longitudinal single and multiple group structural equation models were used to evaluate mediating and moderating effects of different coping strategies. Results supported the hypothesis that adolescent use of avoidance coping strategies of antisocial behavior, "partying" behavior, and substance use mediates the effect of stressors on increased psychological symptoms. The results also supported a stress-buffering effect of the use of high levels of approach coping strategies of exercise, information seeking, and relaxation. High levels of approach coping protect against the negative effects of stressful life events on psychological symptoms. Some gender and age-specific differences in levels of stressors and distress were observed. Females reported more stressful life events and more psychological symptoms or distress than males. Older students reported more stressful life events than younger students. The hypothesized results would suggest that prevention programs aimed at decreasing risk for mental illness, drug abuse, and problem behaviors in adolescents should emphasize both decreasing the use of avoidance coping strategies and increasing the use of approach coping strategies."



McGlone, G. (2004). Bibliography: Recovery and Healing From Sexual Abuse. Human Development, 25 (1). p47-48, 2p.


"Presents a bibliography of articles on recovery and healing from sexual abuse. "The Me Nobody Knows: A Guide for Teen Survivors"; "Outgrowing the Pain Together: Partners, Friends, and Families of Abuse Victims"; "Outgrowing the Pain"; "Someone in My Family Molested Children"; "That's Never Been Told: Healing the Wounds of Childhood Sexual Abuse"; "How Long Does It Hurt? A Guide to Recovering From Incest and Sexual Abuse for Teenagers, Their Friend, and Their Families"."



Resick, P., Schnicke, M. (1990). Treating symptoms in adult victims of sexual assault. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Vol 5(4). pp. 488-506.


"Reviews the literature on the theories and treatment of sexual assault victims. Crisis theory and intervention are addressed, followed by a discussion of cognitive and behavioral treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and sexual dysfunctions. Treatments considered include exposure techniques, coping skills packages, and cognitive therapy. A description of information processing theory is included." PsycINFO Database




Hirai, M., Clum, G. (2005). An Internet-Based Self-Change Program for Traumatic Event Related Fear, Distress, and Maladaptive Coping. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 18 (6). p631-636. link


"This study compared the efficacy of an Internet-based, 8-week self-help program for traumatic event-related consequences (SHTC) (n = 13) to a wait-list (WL) condition (n = 14). The SHTC consisted of cognitive–behavioral modules that progressed from the least anxiety-provoking component (i.e., information) to the most anxiety-provoking (i.e., exposure). Participants were those who had experienced a traumatic event and had been experiencing subclinical levels of symptoms associated with the event. Participants mastered the material in each module before proceeding to the next module. Pre- and post-treatment assessments revealed that SHTC participants decreased avoidance behavior, frequency of intrusive symptoms, state anxiety, and depressive symptoms, and increased coping skills and coping self-efficacy significantly more than WL participants. SHTC participants demonstrated more clinically significant improvement than WL individuals."



Lawler, C., Ouimette, P., Dahlstedt, D. (2005). Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms, Coping, and Physical Health Status Among University Students Seeking Health Care. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 18 (6). p741-750. link


"This study examined posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, coping, and physical health status in students reporting a trauma history (N = 138) using structural equation modeling. Participants completed questionnaires assessing PTSD symptoms, coping specific to health-related and trauma-related stressors and physical health. After accounting for coping with health-specific problems, trauma-specific avoidance coping was uniquely associated with poorer health status. Posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms were associated with poorer physical health status, controlling for age, health behaviors, and other psychopathology. In addition, the effect of PTSD symptoms on poorer health status was mediated by health- and trauma-specific avoidance coping. Results suggest that university health centers should screen for PTSD and consider psychoeducational programs and coping skills interventions for survivors of trauma."


Iglesias, S., Azzara, S., Squillace, M., Jeifetz, M., Lores Arnais, M., Desimone, M., Diaz, L. (2005). A study on the effectiveness of a stress management programme for College students. Pharmacy Education, 5 (1). p27-31, 5p. link


"The purpose of this study was to obtain empirical evidence of the effects of a stress management programme on undergraduate Pharmacy and Biochemistry students. As a first stage, we evaluated beliefs, academic skills and personal stress involvement problems in 136 students. As a second stage, we designed a stress management pilot programme (SMPP) including psycho-educational resources; coping skills training; deep breathing, relaxation and guided imaginary techniques; cognitive restructuring and time management. To evaluate the effects of the SMPP on students we assessed a set of variables before and after the treatment: Anxiety, anger, stress, coping strategies, helplessness, salivary cortisol and psycho-physiological reactivity levels. Towards the end of their SMPP exposure, students had lower levels of stress, anxiety, anger, neuroticism, helplessness and salivary cortisol. These results suggest that SMPP has a promising applicability to deal with high levels of stress, improving the students academic performance and health."




Brownhill, S. ( 2004). The Coping Quadrant: working with and against depression. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 17 (4). p425-435, 11p. link


"This paper presents a model of coping that intersects the emotion and social dimensions of depression. It demonstrates the dynamic socio-emotion interplay and modulation of affect in response to our environment, specifically in relationship to others. Humans can be socially disconnected but emotionally repleted, or socially connected but emotionally depleted, but those who are depressed are more likely to be socially disconnected and emotionally depleted. Conversely, those who are socially connected and emotionally repleted are more likely to employ adaptive coping skills to alleviate emotional distress. When applied to counselling sessions, the model helps to explain client and counsellor dissatisfaction with the process and outcome of the interaction. The model is designed to increase awareness of emotion regulation and to enhance coping skills by offering a practical approach to managing socio-emotion response to the vicissitudes of life."

Carr, A. (2004). Interventions for post-traumatic stress disorder in children and adolescents. Pediatric Rehabilitation, 7 (4). p231-244, 14p. link


"Clinical features, epidemiology and aetiology of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are outlined. Treatment outcome studies involving children with PTSD who have survived traumatic accidents, natural disasters and child sexual abuse are reviewed. An evidence-based assessment and treatment protocol is outlined for children and adolescents with PTSD. Key components of effective treatment are psycho-education about trauma reactions, sustained exposure to trauma-related cues and memories until habituation occurs, coping skills training for children to help them manage anxiety and parent training to equip parents with the skills to help them facilitate their children's recovery."


Moos, R., Holahan, C. (2003). Dispositional and contextual perspectives on coping: Toward an integrative framework. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 59 (12). p1387-1403, 17p. link


"The clinical disciplines have witnessed a rapidly growing literature on the conceptualization and measurement of coping and on the role of coping in confronting stressful life circumstances and maintaining adaptive functioning. This literature has spawned a diversity of concepts and contrasting perspectives on the determinants and effects of coping. To address this complexity, we comment on dispositional and contextual perspectives on the coping process, describe the domains of coping styles and coping skills, and review some measures of these constructs. Next, we present a conceptual framework that integrates key aspects of these constructs and use the framework to guide a selective review of the linkages between personal and social resources, coping skills, and adaptive functioning. We then consider applications of the framework to clinical practice."

Simons, L., Ducette, J., Kirby, K., Stahler, G., Shipley Jr., T. (2003). Childhood Trauma, Avoidance Coping, and Alcohol and Other Drug Use Among Women in Residential and Outpatient Treatment Programs. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 21 (4). p37-54, 18p link


"This study evaluates the different types of childhood trauma, avoidance coping, and patterns of drug and alcohol use among 112 alcohol and drug abusing females in outpatient and residential treatment. A passive research design with self-report surveys was administered to female participants during treatment to assess the relationship between childhood trauma, coping methods, and alcohol and drug use. A multiple regression analysis demonstrated that women with a history of emotional abuse were more likely to engage in avoidance coping skills than those without a history of emotional abuse, which provides some support for the theory that alcohol and drug abuse may be an avoidance coping method for childhood trauma."

Lefkowitz, C., Paharia, I., Prout, M., Debiak, D., Bleiberg, J. (2005). Animal-Assisted Prolonged Exposure: A Treatment for Survivors of Sexual Assault Suffering Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Society & Animals, 13 (4). p275-295, 21p. link


"This paper proposes the development of a new model of treatment for survivors of sexual abuse suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Foa, Rothbaum, Riggs, and Murdock (1991) and Foa, Rothbaum, and Furr (2003) support Prolonged Exposure (PE) as a highly effective treatment for PTSD. However, PE can be intimidating to survivors, contributing to hesitancy to participate in the treatment. This paper posits that animal-assisted therapy (AAT) will decrease anxiety, lower physiological arousal, enhance the therapeutic alliance, and promote social lubrication. The paper also posits that AAT will enhance the value of PE by making it more accessible to survivors, increasing social interaction, and perhaps decreasing the number of sessions required for habituation to the traumatic memories."



"Post-traumatic stress disorder." Jacqueline L. Longe, M.D. and Jill Granger, MS The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Second Edition. Jacqueline L. Longe, Editor. 5 vols. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group, 2001.


"Several types of therapy may be useful and they are often combined in a multi-faceted approach to understand and treat this condition.

-Cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on changing specific actions and thoughts through repetitive review of traumatic events, identification of negative behaviors and thoughts, and stress management.
- Group therapy has been useful in decreasing psychological distress, depression, and anxiety in some PTSD sufferers such as sexually abused women and war veterans.
- Psychological debriefing has been widely used to treat victims of natural disasters and other traumatic events such as bombings and workplace shootings, however, recent research shows that psychological debriefing may increase the stress response. Since this type of debriefing focuses on the emotional response of the survivor, it is not recommended for individuals experiencing an extreme level of grief.



Chibbaro, J. S., Jackson, C. M. (2006). Helping Students Cope in an Age of Terrorism: Strategies for School Counselors. Professional School Counseling, 9 (4), p314-321.

"That educators can foster the development of coping skills in young children through heightened sensory awareness, positive expectations, a clear understanding of one's strengths relating to accomplishment, and developing a sense of humor. Taking action is among the coping skills helpful to strengthen students' sense of self-control. Sklare (1997) wrote, "Getting clients to take action first shows them that they are able to succeed regardless of previous obstacles" (p. 14). Action and movement help overcome a feeling of helplessness that often arises from fear."



Anson, K., Ponsford, J. (2006). Evaluation of a coping skills group following traumatic brain injury. Brain Injury, 20 (2). link

"Adaptive coping, as measured on the Coping Scale for Adults, increased significantly immediately following intervention. However, no significant changes in anxiety, depression, self-esteem and psychosocial function were observed on the measures used. Conclusions : The results suggest that it may be possible to modify coping strategy use following brain injury, through CBT."


Acierno, R. Rheingold, Alyssa A., Resnick, Heidi S., Stark-Riemer, Wendy (2004). Preliminary evaluation of a video-based intervention for older adult victims of violence. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 17 (6).

"Results indicated that older adult victims assigned to the video condition and assessed later that day exhibited greater awareness of crime-related symptoms, healthy coping strategies, and safely planning strategies than did the older adult victims assigned to standard practice of care. However, despite knowledge gains, and in contrast to our predictions, no differences on measures of anxiety or depression were evident"


Bloks, Hans; van Furth, Eric F.; Callewaert, Ineke; Hoek, Hans W. (2004). Coping Strategies and Recovery in Patients with a Severe Eating Disorder. Eating Disorders, 12 (2). link

"Recovery is associated with less Avoiding, less Passive Reacting, more Active Tackling, and more Seeking of Social Support. Passive Reacting emerged as a robust predictor of recovery. Seeking Social Support predicted bulimic symptomatology and global functioning. Building coping skills in eating disorder patients may start early in treatment and may make patients less vulnerable for relapse."


Rekowski, L., Miejan, T. (2006). Victim No More: How To Break Free From Self-Judgement. Hampton Roads Publishing; Charlottesville. Retrieved
Jan 14, 2006, from National Criminal Justice Reference Service Abstracts.

"Based on her own experiences, the author discusses how four major life challenges--health, relationships, self-worth, and abundance--are linked to the consciousness of being a victim, which can lead to a cycle of self-judgment and the abuse of one's self and others; guidance is given on how this state of mind can be transformed into self-love and spiritual empowerment. The author speaks out of her own experiences of abuse, including a violent date rape, multiple incidents of domestic abuse...She outlines five steps for this escape. First, commit yourself to removing the dominant self-consciousness of being a victim. Second, make a commitment to use the tools offered in this book for beginning and maintaining a plan of action. Third, say "no" to old negative thoughts from yourself or others that have for so long determined how you feel about yourself. Fourth, be aware of and catch yourself when you start talking negatively about yourself. Finally, surround yourself with others who want you to succeed in developing a new sense of self and will join you in the journey not only to help you but also them."


Search terms: LIFE skills, BEHAVIOR therapy, coping skill, coping skills, *Coping Behavior; *Help Seeking Behavior; *Nursing; *Rape; SurvivorsADJUSTMENT (Psychology), INTERPERSONAL relations, SOCIAL skills, STRESS (Psychology), ADJUSTMENT (Psychology), EATING disorders, LIFE skills, DISEASES -- Relapse, SOCIAL support, SYMPTOMS

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Related links: Victim blame


Macdonalds, J. (2004). World Book Encyclopedia. United States of America: World Book Inc.

rape. (2006). Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved May 2, 2006, from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service.

Smith, M. D. (2004). Encyclopedia of Rape. USA: Greenwood Press.

Sedney, M., "rape (crime)." Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. Scholastic Library Publishing, 2006 <> (February 1, 2006).



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Rape Crisis Information Pathfinder, UNC Chapel Hill, N.C.,