Heading into my office today following an evening that not only changed our country, but the world, has been a startling and sobering experience. The raining streets of Manhattan are quiet with shock over the election results and regardless of political views, there is still a common feeling of disbelief.
What I, and my colleagues, face today with our clients is a response of trauma. The fear based rhetoric has created just that – a terrible sense of fear about what this means for minorities who have been targeted – Muslims, African Americans, Mexicans, women, the LGBTQ community, and the disabled. Maybe the appropriate term is re-traumatization. These are communities of people that have been victimized throughout their lives and are experiencing this trauma again today. This is not a response to Donald Trump, it is a gut wrenching reaction to what this means about the country we live in. At a time in our country where progress had been occurring and change had been felt – this feels to many as a strong kick into regression. Hopefully this highlights that there is still a strong need for change.
It is not an uncommon response to positive change to regress. Fear comes in and people revert back to what they have known, what has been comfortable, regardless of the negative effects (defense mechanisms). As I try to help my clients through their own personal traumas, I encourage a reminder that sometimes taking a step backwards is necessary to keep moving forward.