Consider this – you lost a child to a mass shooting and in the aftermath of the tragedy, you are referred to a therapist who repeatedly uses the word trigger to explain your reactions. Hmm… something to think about. That example happened with a gentleman I met a few years ago. After a time, this client explained that just hearing the word “trigger” or “triggered” was very upsetting for him. It reminded him of how his daughter had died. Since that session, I have made it a point to replace the word with the word activated. It makes all the sense in the world to use the word activation, as it seems to me to describe the internal process more accurately to words, events, or activities that bring up past traumas. To be activated implies the ability to deactivate, a reasonable aspiration for individuals who have suffered life-altering events. If you have not noticed I am turning into a bit of word police. Not meaning to dictate my values on everyone, but instead asking and imploring for thoughtful word usage when dealing with populations in vulnerable places. We need to always underscore a sense of agency for victims who have suffered so much. And yes, I picked the word victim on purpose. To become a survivor, you must first recognize you were victimized and to be a survivor means you know there is some way to heal and move beyond.
Dr. Rebecca Bailey
Author: Dr. Rebecca Bailey

Dr . Bailey is a leading trauma therapist who specializes in complex case scenarios. She has over 30 years of experience in the field and continues to be dedicated to the notion that authenticity, common sense, and kindness are the most important elements of effective treatment. She is a lifelong equestrian and animal lover who continues to believe animals, in particular horses, have much to teach humans about curiosity and compassion.