How Long Does It Take To Recover and Heal From Trauma?

How long does it take to recover and heal from trauma.

Trauma can have a lasting impact on a person’s physical and mental health, making it difficult to resume everyday life.

The time it takes to recover and heal from trauma varies greatly depending on the individual and the severity of the trauma. Some people may experience significant improvement within a few months, while others may take years to fully recover. It’s important to seek professional help and support during the healing process.

In this article, we will discuss the different types of trauma, factors that affect recovery time, and the phases of trauma recovery.

We will also explore various recovery techniques and therapies to provide you with some insight on the best way for you to recover from your traumatic experience.

Types of Trauma

There are many types of trauma, including physical, emotional, and psychological trauma.

Physical TraumaThis refers to any bodily harm caused by an external force. Examples include motor vehicle accidents, falls, sports injuries, and physical violence.
Emotional TraumaEmotional trauma results from experiences that overwhelm a person’s ability to cope, often leaving them feeling powerless, helpless, or out of control. Examples include emotional abuse, neglect, and witnessing violence.
Sexual TraumaThis includes any unwanted or non-consensual sexual experience, such as sexual abuse, assault, or harassment.
Psychological TraumaThis type of trauma can result from experiences that threaten a person’s sense of safety, security, or well-being, such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks, or war.
Childhood TraumaChildhood trauma refers to any traumatic experiences that occur during childhood, such as neglect, abuse, or exposure to violence.
Collective TraumaThis refers to trauma that affects a group of people, such as the trauma experienced by a community after a natural disaster or terrorist attack.

Each type of trauma can affect recovery time differently. For example, recovering from a traumatic incident like a natural disaster may take longer than recovering from a single event like a sexual assault. (It certainly depends on the severity of the event.)

Childhood trauma may take longer to recover from than trauma experienced in adulthood due to the sensitive nature of early life experiences.

But know that whatever trauma you have experienced, it is possible to recover.

Recovering From Physical Trauma

For minor injuries such as cuts, bruises, or minor sprains, the recovery time can be a matter of days or weeks. However, for more serious injuries such as broken bones, severe burns, or traumatic brain injuries, the recovery time can be months or years.

  • Recovery from physical trauma starts with the acute phase, which involves immediate medical attention and stabilization.
  • After the acute phase, the individual may require rehabilitation and physical therapy to help regain strength, mobility, and function.

Factors such as age, overall health, and the presence of any underlying medical conditions can also impact recovery time.

It’s important to follow your doctor’s recommendations for treatment and to give your body time to heal.

Recovering From Emotional Trauma

Just like any trauma, the recovery time for emotional trauma can vary widely depending on the type and severity of the trauma, as well as the individual’s level of resilience and access to support resources.

Emotional trauma can encompass a wide range of experiences, including but not limited to:

  • Childhood abuse or neglect
  • Sexual assault or violence
  • Accidents or natural disasters
  • Witnessing violence or experiencing a traumatic event

Recovery from emotional trauma involves a process of healing that may take weeks, months, or even years. It’s important to note that recovery from emotional trauma is not always a linear process and can involve setbacks and challenges along the way.

Here are the steps normally taken to recover from emotional trauma.

  1. The first step in the recovery process is often to establish a sense of safety and stability, both physically and emotionally. This may involve seeking professional help from a mental health expert or joining a support group.
  2. The next phase of recovery may involve working through the traumatic memories and emotions in a safe and supportive environment. This can be achieved through neurofeedback, talk therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, or other types of trauma-focused therapy.

Factors that can impact the length of the recovery process include the individual’s level of social support, the severity of the trauma, the presence of any co-occurring mental health conditions, and the individual’s own resilience and coping mechanisms.

It’s important to remember that healing from emotional trauma is a deeply personal and individual experience, and there is no set timeline for recovery.

Recovering From Sexual Trauma

For some individuals, the nature of sexual trauma can be so intense that it can feel like life will never go back to normal. This is a perfectly understandable feeling.

Sexual trauma can encompass a wide range of experiences, including but not limited to:

  • Sexual assault
  • Rape
  • Incest
  • Child sexual abuse

Recovering from sexual trauma can be a difficult and complex process, but there are some steps that can be helpful in the healing journey:

  1. Seek professional help from a therapist who specializes in trauma and has experience working with survivors of sexual violence.
  2. Practice self-care, such as engaging in regular exercise, getting enough sleep, and eating a healthy diet.
  3. Engage in mindfulness practices, such as meditation or yoga, to help manage symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  4. Build a support network of friends and family who can offer emotional support and understanding.
  5. Learn and use coping strategies, such as deep breathing exercises or grounding techniques, to help manage flashbacks or other distressing symptoms.
  6. Consider joining a support group for survivors of sexual trauma to connect with others who have experienced similar experiences.
  7. Give yourself time and be patient with the healing process. Recovery from trauma is a journey and progress can be slow at times.

Recovering From Psychological Trauma

Psychological trauma refers to a type of damage to an individual’s mind that occurs as a result of experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event.

Psychological trauma can result from a wide range of experiences, including but not limited to:

  • Natural disasters
  • Serious accidents
  • Combat exposure
  • Childhood abuse or neglect
  • Domestic violence
  • Emotional abuse or neglect
  • Bullying
  • Witnessing violence or crime
  • Traumatic loss

Recovering from psychological trauma is a challenging process, but it is possible! Healing takes time and effort, but with the right help and support you can begin to move forward.

Here are some tips for recovery:

1. Reach out for help. Speak to your doctor or mental health professional about what you’re going through.

2. Connect with supportive people who understand and care about you.

3. Practice self-care, such as eating healthy, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and engaging in activities that help you relax and bring joy into your life.

4. Create a daily routine for yourself to provide structure and consistency throughout the day.

5. Take breaks from difficult emotions and thoughts to do something calming, like listening to music or taking a walk outdoors.

6. Set realistic goals for yourself that you can work towards each day.

7. Practice positive self-talk and try your best to focus on what is going well in your life.

8. Allow yourself time to grieve and process what you are feeling.

9. Connect with supportive people in your life, such as family, friends, or a therapist.

10. Seek out activities that bring meaning into your life, like volunteering or joining a hobby group.

11. Celebrate small victories and recognize your progress each step of the way.

12. Practice mindfulness techniques such as breathing exercises or meditation to help gain perspective on challenging thoughts or emotions.

13. Speak kindly to yourself and remember that you are capable of overcoming any situation.

14. Find healthy outlets for expressing your emotions, such as journaling or talking to trusted people in your life.

Recovering From Childhood Trauma

Although you can’t undo what has already happened and there is no “quick fix” to healing from childhood trauma , there is hope. With the right help and support, you can learn to cope with your past experiences and create a healthier lifestyle for yourself.

Therapy is often beneficial in helping individuals work through childhood trauma. A skilled therapist can provide safe space for you to share your story and begin to process those experiences without fear or judgment.

The therapist can help you explore your feelings and develop skills for managing them in healthy ways.

Childhood trauma can result from a wide range of experiences, including but not limited to:

  • Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
  • Neglect
  • Separation from a primary caregiver
  • Witnessing violence or crime
  • Natural disasters

Childhood trauma can have long-lasting effects on an individual’s mental and physical health, as well as their ability to form healthy relationships and function in their daily life.

The recovery process for childhood trauma often involves working through the traumatic memories and emotions in a safe and supportive environment, such as through talk therapy or trauma-focused therapy.

The length of the recovery process can depend on various factors, including the severity of the trauma, the individual’s level of social support, and the presence of any co-occurring mental health conditions.

It’s important to seek professional help from a mental health expert who specializes in treating childhood trauma, and to prioritize self-care and healthy coping mechanisms during the healing process.

Recovering From Collective Trauma

Collective trauma refers to a traumatic event or series of events that affect an entire group or community, such as natural disasters, war, terrorist attacks, or pandemics.

Collective trauma can have a significant impact on a community’s mental health and well-being, and can result in a range of symptoms such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mental health conditions.

The recovery process for collective trauma typically involves a combination of individual and community-level interventions aimed at promoting healing, resilience, and recovery.

Recovery from collective trauma is often a long-term process, and there is no set timeline for recovery. However, research has shown that early interventions and ongoing support can help to mitigate the negative effects of trauma and promote long-term healing and recovery.

Some communities may take several years or even decades to fully recover from a traumatic event, while others may show resilience and recovery within a shorter period of time.

Factors that Affect Trauma Recovery Time

Several factors can affect the length of time it takes to recover from trauma.

  • Age
  • Severity of trauma
  • Type of trauma
  • Personal characteristics
  • Support systems

All of these factors play a significant role in the healing process.

Younger individuals may recover more quickly than older adults, and those with a history of previous trauma may take longer to heal. Having a strong support group, a sense of safety, and a safe environment can also help speed up the recovery process.

Phases of Trauma Recovery

The process of trauma recovery generally consists of three stages:

  1. The emergency phase -involves dealing with the immediate aftermath of the traumatic event.
  2. Short-term phase – involves managing symptoms of trauma and beginning to work through the painful memories.
  3. Long-term phase – focuses on building new coping skills and integrating the traumatic experience into one’s life story.

Generally speaking, recovery from any type of trauma can vary depending on several factors, including:

  1. The type and severity of the trauma: The more severe the trauma, the longer the recovery time may be.
  2. The individual’s age and physical health: Younger people and those in good physical health may recover more quickly from trauma than older individuals or those with pre-existing medical conditions.
  3. The level of support and resources available: Having a strong support system and access to resources such as counseling, therapy, and medical care can greatly aid in recovery.
  4. The presence of other stressors: Additional stressors such as financial difficulties, relationship problems, or health concerns can prolong the recovery process.
  5. The individual’s coping mechanisms: Individuals with healthy coping mechanisms such as exercise, meditation, and positive social interactions may recover more quickly than those who rely on unhealthy coping mechanisms such as substance abuse.
  6. The individual’s resilience: Some individuals may be more resilient than others and are able to recover more quickly from traumatic experiences.
  7. The timing of intervention: Early intervention and treatment can help to prevent long-term effects of trauma and may shorten recovery time.

Trauma Recovery Techniques and Therapies

There are different ways to approach trauma recovery. The most important thing is to find a treatment plan that works for you.

There are several trauma recovery techniques and therapies that can be effective in helping individuals recover from traumatic experiences.

Here are some of the most commonly used techniques and therapies:

  1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a type of therapy that focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors that may be contributing to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.
  2. Trauma-focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT): TF-CBT is a specific type of therapy designed to help children and adolescents who have experienced trauma, and focuses on building coping skills, processing emotions, and rebuilding trust.
  3. Neurofeedback: Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback that can help individuals become more aware of their body’s response to stress and teach them how to manage it.
  4. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR is a therapy that uses eye movements to help individuals process traumatic memories and reduce symptoms of PTSD.
  5. Mindfulness-based interventions: Mindfulness practices such as meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises can help individuals develop skills to manage anxiety and distress associated with trauma.
  6. Exposure therapy: Exposure therapy involves gradually exposing individuals to the traumatic event or memory in a safe and controlled environment, which can help reduce anxiety and desensitize them to the triggers associated with the trauma.
  7. Group therapy: Group therapy provides a supportive and safe environment for individuals to share their experiences and connect with others who have similar experiences.
  8. Art therapy: Art therapy uses creative expression as a way to process and explore traumatic experiences.
  9. Music therapy: Music therapy can help individuals connect with their emotions and process traumatic memories.
  10. Breathing exercises: Breathing exercises can be used to manage anxiety and distress associated with trauma.
  11. Pharmacotherapy: Medications such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety medication, and mood stabilizers can be effective in reducing symptoms of PTSD and depression.

It is important to note that not all techniques and therapies are suitable for everyone, and that treatment should be tailored to each individual’s needs and preferences. A mental health professional can help determine the most appropriate approach for each person.

Examples of Trauma Recovery Timeframes

Recovery timeframes for trauma can vary significantly based on the type of trauma and individual experience. For example, someone recovering from emotional trauma may take longer to heal than someone who has experienced physical trauma.

Additionally, someone with a strong support system and access to professional help may recover more quickly than someone without these resources.

The recovery time for trauma can vary widely depending on several factors, including the severity of the trauma, the individual’s support system, and the type of treatment received. It is also important to note that recovery is a unique and individual process, and there is no set timeframe for recovery.

Here are some examples of trauma recovery timeframes:

  1. Acute stress reaction: This is a short-term response to a traumatic event, and typically lasts for several days to a few weeks.
  2. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): PTSD is a long-term condition that can develop after experiencing a traumatic event. Recovery time can vary widely, but may take several months to several years, depending on the severity of symptoms and the individual’s response to treatment.
  3. Complex trauma: Complex trauma is a type of trauma that is ongoing and can occur over an extended period of time, such as childhood abuse or neglect. Recovery from complex trauma can take several years, and may involve multiple types of treatment.
  4. Traumatic brain injury (TBI): Recovery time for TBI can vary widely depending on the severity of the injury, but may take several months to several years. Rehabilitation and therapy can help individuals recover from the physical, emotional, and cognitive effects of a TBI.
  5. Natural disasters: Recovery from natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, or floods can take several months to several years, depending on the extent of the damage and the resources available for recovery efforts.

It is important to remember that recovery is a unique and individual process, and that there is no set timeframe for recovery from trauma. Seeking professional help and support can greatly aid in the recovery process.


Recovering from trauma is a personal process that requires patience and time. The most important thing is to seek professional help and build a support system to help manage symptoms of trauma. Remember, recovery is possible, and with the right tools, you can heal and resume everyday life.

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Laurie Newcomb, MA, LPC, NCC, CCTP

Licensed Professional Counselor, MA, LPC, NCC, CCTP My goal for each therapy session is to respect the client, allow them to be heard, appreciate where they are coming from, and help guide them through their struggles or issues. My approach to therapy is to utilize an integrative approach with clients. What this means is that I utilize different approaches for different people, as we are not all alike. Whether you're suffering from depression, anxiety, trauma, or any other kind of challenge, you want a therapist you feel comfortable with and who can help you bring about change. I have experience working with substance abuse, anxiety, depression, trauma, and life transitions. I am personally passionate about assisting clients who have endured trauma in their life. I am certified in trauma therapy and continue to work with clients with substance abuse.