Why Trust After Trauma is So Hard & What to Do About It

Those who’ve experienced trauma can attest to the fears that accompany rebuilding trust. But why is this? Trust is a crucial component of resolving trauma, but gaining trust is often a big challenge after trauma. Our capacity to trust begins in the early years, and may have been handicapped even before the experience of any known trauma. Trauma compounds any existing distrust. It helps to have a firm grasp on each of these concepts individually.


The foundation for trust begins early on. According to developmental psychologist Erik Erikson, a baby develops trust when being raised by adults who respond in meeting the baby's needs. As infants, babies are completely dependent and defenseless. When needs are adequately responded to by his or her caregivers during this time, a baby develops a basis for trust.  When this isn't the case, there is a much higher likelihood that trust issues, without some sort of intervention, will be a lifelong challenge. As a child develops, he or she encounters many different experiences, which affect his or her sense of trust. Often, disturbing events erode whatever trust existed. Trust issues are carried through out life, unless recognized and cleared. 


Trauma is any deeply distressing or disturbing experience. It can stem from a variety of different situations. The following are just a few of many examples:

  • Childhood Experiences - Not getting needs met adequately as a child

  • Abuse - Emotional, verbal, and physical abuse

  • Event Trauma - Trauma from a specific event, i.e.: PTSD, a car accident, etc.

Trauma can have a devastating effect on our ability to trust.

So Why is Trust So Difficult After Trauma?

Not Knowing Any Differently

This may sound surprising, but many people who have experienced trauma are unaware that what they've experienced has caused them harm. This is common with childhood trauma, especially in cases of emotional and verbal abuse. Children don't have the resources to question adults' treatment of them. Often, even once the child becomes an adult, he or she doesn’t realize that childhood experiences continue to have an effect. Early treatment of a child impacts expectations of how others will act and respond. It continues to affect expectations as the child grows into an adult, and on through the years. This way of thinking can become so ingrained that it is hard to believe any other way of being exists.


Physical problems, such as heart palpitations, nausea or tremors can crop up anytime there is a reminder of the trauma. Rather than getting past trauma, many try to avoid any situation that could bring up reminders. Other challenges, such as irritability, difficulty concentrating, hypervigilance and exaggerated startle responses suck out energy, and can make it hard to get out of survival mode.

What's Happening Below the Level of Consciousness

After a traumatizing experience or event, the human mind instinctively reorganizes around preventing any reoccurrence. It's as if it is saying, “that happened once, it can happen again. Don't let it. Stay alert. Don’t trust.” This is a survival mechanism and intended to be protective. What makes them so difficult to change is that these thoughts are caused below the level of consciousness. Being outside consciousness means they are tough to affect by using any method that targets only conscious awareness. Most methods available do just this; and using strategies that help target just thinking an behaving don't go far enough.

How Do You Start Trusting Again?

Trauma can be incredibly impactful.  If you've been through a traumatic experience, I recommend scheduling to see an RRT (Rapid Resolution Therapy®) therapist as soon as possible. RRT works deeply on conscious and subconscious levels in order to clears up trauma symptoms quickly. Collateral damage, such as lack of trust, get cleared out automatically. I think of trauma like a fender bender. If the car frame is off and pulling to the left, you'd take it in for repair. When you get your car back all realigned, it can be as good as new, sometimes even better. RRT does this with minds that have been affected by difficult circumstances. Outcomes include a whole new way of seeing and experiencing life, and all sorts of freed up energy to put towards what's important to you. The process is easy and designed to minimize any possibility of distress. As a matter of fact, the therapist does most of the work, while you sit back and enjoy the results. Don't get me wrong though, you'll be very much engaged, too. If you have been through difficult events and you believe they are still affecting you, contact me to see if RRT is a good fit for you.