Recommended reading for trauma recovery

A review of “Healing Trauma” by Peter A. Levine, PhD.
Written by Kristy Kirby, Registered Psychotherapist

If you are looking for a book that will help you understand your trauma and show you what practical steps you can take to recover and regain resilience, this is the book for you. A quick read that is infinitely practical, Peter A. Levine PhD has taken the complex topic of trauma and created a manageable guidebook featuring a “12 phase healing program”.

This short book (less than 100 pages) and audio companion, will empower you by helping you to understand your trauma and to look at your symptoms with a new perspective. This book is full of exercises that you can practice to help you heal from trauma.   

The author, Peter A. Levine, PhD is a leader in the field of trauma. He is the founder of thepopular approach “Somatic Experiencing” and he has taught all over the world, mentoring countless therapists. He has written several other books including “Freedom from pain” and “Trauma and memory”.

Levine’s approach to trauma is body-oriented. He traces the origin of trauma to a physiological state in which a person’s attempt to protect or defend themselves from a perceived threat was overwhelmed, interrupted or unsuccessful. The energy that the body generated to protect itself then becomes stuck in the body.

Levine’s approach, and other body-based methods, focus on working with that stuck energy. In “Healing Trauma” Levine introduces his 12-phase program which includes 4 major stages. The first is a preparatory phase designed to help restore connection and resources, the second is to build awareness of the body or the “felt sense” and the third stage is to release stuck energy. In the last stage of this healing process, Levine provides exercises to help you adjust to the new way of being.

The book is capped with a chapter on trauma prevention, including tips for emergency situations as and parenting children who have experienced trauma.

Note: Trauma work is difficult. This book offers a variety of exercises that you can do on your own to work through your body’s response to trauma but, you do not need to walk the path of trauma recovery alone. If you find that these exercises are overwhelming to you or if you have the sense that it would be helpful to talk to a professional, I encourage you to do so.


Kristy Kirby is a Registered Psychotherapist and the founder of Open Skies Psychotherapy.

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