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Trauma Dumping

by Crystal Thomas | January 2022

Trauma Dumping is a term that has recently made its way into the social media discourse on mental health. The term refers to sharing one’s traumatic experiences with someone who is not consenting or prepared to hear and process them. Unfortunately, widespread use of the term in some virtual spaces has distorted it somewhat, leaving many young people unsure when, where, and with whom it is socially acceptable to discuss trauma.

Discussion around the way we talk about trauma is certainly valuable. We could all benefit from reminders to ask about and respect the emotional boundaries of others. We could all also benefit from skill-building in establishing our own boundaries with others. However, framing this discussion as a problem with “trauma dumping” implies carelessness on the part of the traumatized individual, and might have the effect of shaming a person who is reaching out for support.

Your friends and loved ones will all have unique emotional boundaries, strengths, and limitations. For many reasons, members of your personal support network may at times be unable to empathize with your traumatic experiences or sit with you as you process them. This does not apply to your therapist. When you meet with your therapist, they are responsible for ensuring that they have the emotional bandwidth to actively listen, reflect, and sit with you as you tell your story.

Every person, including your therapist, has boundaries and is deserving of respect; however, talking about your trauma does not cross any therapeutic boundary. Your therapist will be there to actively guide you as you share your trauma narrative in the interest of helping you to regulate the emotions that are stirred up in the process of sharing. The ultimate goal is that you are able to share as much of your story as you need to in order to heal.

This page is also part of the Roamers Therapy Glossary; a collection of mental-health related definitions that are written by our therapists.

While our offices are currently located at the South Loop neighborhood of Downtown Chicago, Illinois, we also welcome and serve clients for online therapy from anywhere in Illinois and Washington, D.C. Clients from the Chicagoland area may choose in-office or online therapy and usually commute from surrounding areas such as River North, West Loop, Gold Coast, Old Town, Lincoln Park, Lake View, Rogers Park, Logan Square, Pilsen, Bridgeport, Little Village, Bronzeville, South Shore, Hyde Park, Back of the Yards, Wicker Park, Bucktown and many more. You can visit our contact page to access detailed information on our office location.