Part Two: Risk and Resiliency Factors for PTSD
While minorities are the most at-risk populations in the world, there are other risk factors that make someone more vulnerable to experiencing trauma. As you will see, the overarching theme of these risk factors is the lack of available internal and external resources.
By “resources” I am referring to the physical, mental, and spiritual supports each one of us draws upon to help us in times of need. This could be special connections with friends, family members, therapists, other practitioners, and even pets. This could also be nourishing practices such as meditation, breathing techniques, exercising, journaling, taking walks in nature, taking baths, or connecting with a spiritual or religious practice or prayer. Each one of us has our own unique pool of resources that we draw from every day.
- Family environment that is NOT supportive or nurturing
- Family relationships that are NOT dependable or stable
- Lack of appropriate affection from parents or caregivers
- Financial instability
- Lack of academic achievement, reduced cognitive exposure or capacity
- Parents/caregivers who are not healthy, mentally and/or physically
- Prior experience of trauma or exposure to extremely stressful events
- Prenatal and perinatal trauma experience such as hypoxia
- Limited coping mechanisms
Opposite risk factors, each of us individually and collectively in our communities also have resiliency factors. When it comes to resiliency, it all boils down to the availability of resources, both internal and external and the more resources available to someone, the more resiliency they will develop. Here is a list of resiliency factors:
- Opportunities to discuss, debrief, or otherwise engage in healing activities
- Secure and nurturing family and community
- Appropriate amounts of risk as well as boundaries as a child
- Access to education
- Social competence and meaningful relationships
- Physical health
- Financial stability
- Personal goals and aspirations, a sense of purpose
- A sense of humor, empathy, and in general a positive outlook on life
- Belief in something larger than oneself
When someone is a minority, has a high amount of risk factors, and a low amount of resiliency factors, they are at a greater risk for developing trauma after an extremely stressful experience.
On the other hand, when someone is of the majority, has a low amount of risk factors, and a high amount of resiliency factors, the chances of them developing trauma after an extremely stressful experience is slim.
Therefore, and since we cannot immediately change the minority status of an individual or community, the GOAL for our working together in recovery from PTSD is to help you move from the high risk category over to the high resiliency category. This movement is 100% dependent on the building of resources, both internal and external. That is what we are here for as practitioners at Inner Ocean.