TRAUMA DUMPING 3 Effective Ways to Support Your Friend and Access Resources By Reynelda Jones, LCSW-C

By | Feb 23, 2024

I work with many resilient women who sometimes find themselves in the role of the trusted “counselor” within their friend group. These women are compassionate and empathetic, always ready to lend an ear and offer support to their friends in times of need. However, after talking with several individuals, it has become apparent that a recurring theme that tends to arise is that many of these women often feel overwhelmed and drained by their friend’s “trauma dumping” on them. It is not uncommon for these individuals to feel like they are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders, carrying the emotional burden of their friends’ struggles, and over time…this can become mentally and emotionally exhausting.

I know that my clientele makes up a small percentage of individuals experiencing this issue, but I often meet people who have had similar experiences. Many of you may be going through similar situations with your friends, and I hope to support you and your friends more effectively.

First, let’s start with understanding what trauma dumping is.

What is Trauma Dumping?

Trauma dumping refers to the act of unloading one’s emotional burdens or traumatic experiences onto others without considering their well-being or capacity to handle such information. It involves sharing graphic or distressing details, often without consent, to seek relief or validation. This can be exhausting for the recipient, as they may feel unprepared to handle someone else’s trauma.

As a person with a big heart, I’m sure you want to help your friend. But, we can’t be everything to everyone. To be honest, there are just some things we are not equipped to handle…and that is okay.

Here are 3 steps that may be helpful for you:

Set Boundaries

The discussion of boundaries is essential because each individual has boundaries. Our boundaries do not come naturally; rather, they develop as we mature. The healthiness of our

boundaries are influenced by the environment in which we are raised. For instance, a girl nurtured in a loving home is likely to establish strong boundaries, while one raised in an abusive environment may struggle to form healthy boundaries in adulthood.

If you wish to learn how to start developing healthy boundaries, my very own colleague Joyce Miles has provided a detailed explanation providing practical tips to start setting healthy boundaries.

Boundaries the Who, What, When, Why and How? https://www.asolutionb.com/chat-trap-

blog/boundaries-the-who-what-when-why-and-how

Another helpful article comes from the Clinicians of Color blog titled Who Has Access To You?

https://www.cliniciansotcolor.org/clinician-articles/who-has-access-to-you-analyzing-the-impact-

that-others-have-on-our-moods-and-our-affect-by-chelsea-glover-jordan/

Redirect

I understand the importance of being a supportive friend, especially when someone is sharing sensitive information with you. It’s okay if you feel unequipped to handle the situation, especially if you lack the necessary skills. I encourage you to be mindful of how you redirect your friend. If your friend mentions attending therapy, you could consider saying something like, “I wish I could support you, perhaps it’s best to discuss this with your therapist.” It’s important to prioritize your friend’s well-being and offer appropriate support. Alternatively, you may say, “I understand that what you have to share is important, and I want to acknowledge that. However, I may not be equipped to provide the level of support that you need. I believe there are individuals better suited to offer the assistance that you need.”

Perhaps you are the kind of friend who finds solace in sharing intimate but difficult details with someone you trust, and in that case, it doesn’t hurt to consider the option of sharing these concerns with a qualified therapist. If it is important to you to have a therapist of Color who can better understand your experiences, I have a helpful link that can assist you in finding the right match for your needs.

Directories for Finding Black Therapists and more https://www.cliniciansofcolor.org/clinician-articles/navigating-mental-health-essential-directories-for-finding-black-therapists-written-by-

reynelda-jones-Icsw-picture-by-canva/

Encourage

Sometimes our friends do not fully grasp the concept of therapy and believe that therapy only consists of talking. However, it’s important to recognize that many types of licensed mental health clinicians understand that healing comes in various forms. For example, some therapists incorporate somatic therapies such as yoga, while others may utilize EMDR, mindfulness, or spiritual aspects of healing. It’s essential to understand that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, and I encourage you and your friend to explore the diverse approaches to wellness that mental health providers offer. You may find many of the therapists listed on the Clinicians of Color Directory may incorporate these approaches, providing culturally responsive techniques for people of color. I’ve also provided several articles that delves further into the benefits of exploring different types of integrative therapists. Finding culturally relevant and integrative therapy can be an important step in the healing journey.

Going back to the art of Mindfulness https://www.cliniciansofcolor.org/clinician-articles/going-back-to-get-it-the-art-of-mindfulness-by-stephanie-barbee-msw-lcsw

Come Find Ease and Alignment with EMDR https://www.cliniciansofcolor.org/clinician-articles/are-you-feeling-emotionally-exhausted-come-find-ease-and-alignment-with-an-emdr-trained-therapist/

Why You Should Consider Talkng to an Integrative Therapist https://www.asolutionb.com/chat-trap-blog/why-you-should-consider-talking-to-an integrative-therapist

Summary

Dealing with trauma can strain relationships and negatively impact the healing process for all involved. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s important to establish boundaries with your friend and communicate that you may not have the capacity or expertise to provide the support they need in this area of their life. Furthermore, respectfully encourage your friend to seek professional help and let them know that while talk therapy is beneficial, there are other approaches recognized by mental health therapists that can also be helpful. It is crucial to acknowledge the significance of seeking appropriate support or professional help when dealing with traumatic experiences and to honor boundaries and consent when sharing difficult, yet sensitive information with others.

Your care and concern for your friends demonstrate what a great friend you are to them, and I hope that you are also taking care of yourself in the same way.

About the Author

Reynelda Jones is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor, Acupuncture Detoxification Specialist, and Certified Integrative Mental Health Professional. She currently has a private practice called A Solution B in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she specializes in working with women leaders and female entrepreneurs struggling with stress, anxiety and PTSD. Ms. Jones utilizes traditional

talk therapy with a fusion of evidence-based holistic care which incorporates nutritional wellness and environmental exploration to promote emotional wellness and whole-body wellness. You can follow Ms. Jones on Facebook: @A Solution B, Instagram:

@a_solution_b Youtube: Reynelda Jones

Resources

Kellas, Jody & Horstman, Haley & Willer, Erin & Carr, Kristen. (2014). The Benefits and Risks of Telling and Listening to Stories of Difficulty Over Time: Experimentally Testing the Expressive Writing Paradigm in the Context of Interpersonal Communication Between Friends. Health communication. 30. 1-16. 10.1080/10410236.2013.850017.

 

favicon

zoria

Leave a Review