“Nobody can “treat” a war, or abuse, rape, molestation, or any other horrendous event, for that matter; what has happened cannot be undone. But what can be dealt with are the imprints of the trauma on body, mind, and soul: the crushing sensations in your chest that you may label as anxiety or rejection; the self-loathing; the nightmares and flashbacks; the fog that keeps you from staying on task and from engaging fully in what you are doing; being unable to fully open your heart to another human being.
Trauma robs you of the feeling that you are in charge of yourself, of what I will call self-leadership. The challenge of recovery is to establish ownership of your body and your mind – of your self. This means feeling free to know what you know and to feel what you feel without becoming overwhelmed, enraged, ashamed, or collapsed. For most people this involves (1) finding in way to become calm and focused, (2) learning to maintain that calm in response to images, thoughts, sounds, or physical sensations that remind you of the past, (3) finding a way to be fully alive in the present and engaged with people around you, (4) not having to keep secrets from yourself, including secrets about the ways that you have managed to survive.” The Body Keeps the Score, Bessel A van der Kolk, M.D. (pp. 203-5)
All of our trauma survivors have suffered a lost of sense of self which has made if difficult to fully open their hearts to another human being. Their need to be loved and to love is locked away by the trauma they received from the past. It generally takes significant time, patience and testing (survivor testing the therapist) before they can trust to begin the journey into healing.