The Case for Connection

Written by Addison Duane

There is a popular adage that connection buffers trauma responses. That relationships serve as a catalyst for transforming trauma and, ultimately, for healing. But what kind of connection, and relationships, and supports matter?

To answer this, we can look to the research literature and our lived experiences.

A group of researchers recently conducted a meta-analysis to understand what existing literature says about the relationship between trauma and connection. Using data from 139 studies that had a total of 62,803 people, the study found that there is a relationship between social support and post-traumatic stress disorder severity. In other words, the more social support someone has, the less severe their trauma symptoms or responses are likely to be.

This finding may not be groundbreaking for those of us who have experienced trauma, or who work in the field. But it does illuminate particular elements that can help us better understand, contextualize, and make the case for building strong connections in our communities.

Because social support buffers trauma responses.

  • And, social support can look, sound, and feel differently depending on the shape it takes, including:
  • Emotional support (offering care, love, concern, compassion)
  • Instrumental support (providing tangible or practical assistance, such as providing transportation or financial help)
  • Informational support (giving advice, guidance, or information)
  • Appraisal support (providing feedback, evaluation, or reassurance)
  • Companionship support (being available to engage in social activities or shared experiences)

As we see ourselves as interconnected beings, situated in sociopolitical realities, swimming through White supremacy (the water, not the shark), and working to upend systems that harm, it helps to know that there is a lot we can do within our sphere of influence to give, embody, and be social support with and for others.

For more information on trauma and healing please visit our resources on our website.