But for clients who have been abused, abandoned, or rejected, being vulnerable is associated with powerlessness, humiliation, and violence — something to be resisted at all costs.
Almost every kind of trauma or painful experience in life involves incompetence or cruelty perpetrated by other human beings. No matter how much clients sincerely want our help through trauma therapy, they cannot control the triggering of instinctive fight, flight, or submission defenses in the presence of other human beings.
Should a client experiencing trauma commit to therapy or flee? Fight against the therapist’s every effort? Or “submit” by coming to therapy, but then not be fully participating?
For clients with trauma, to seek help may bring initial relief in a moment of crisis, but it also inevitably raises doubts: Is it better to trust or avoid trusting?