Recovering from Car Accident Trauma

Leaves on car windshield by Charles Blackhall
Photo by Charles Blackhall

A car accident may trigger shock, fear, anger, confusion and feeling of guilt all that once. Counselling will help you deal with these emotions and the flash backs you may experience in the aftermath. Somatic therapy will reduce the anxiety and symptoms from the accident by working with the nervous system where the memory is stored.

Healing and recovering from a car accident during therapy takes a number of steps:

  1. Recalling when you felt safe after the accident to help your body realize that the traumatic event is over and to help you reconnect to your body’s ability to relax.
  2. When memories of the accident return you will be guided to switch to when it was over and safe. Going back and forth between the accident memory and the safety memory will help you discharge the activation (stored traumatic memory) in your nervous system.
  3. Bringing you back to the moment before the accident is also crucial in the final discharge: unthawing the freeze response of the body during the car accident.
  4. During therapy you will gradually slow down and be able to integrate the memories of the impact while leaving them behind along with the fear, panic and anger.

Trauma following car accidents can persist for weeks, months, or even longer. Counselling and especially somatic therapy will help you understand the symptoms, treat the health problems and gradually recover from the trauma brought on by car accidents.


D. Poole Heller & L. S. Heller (2001). Crash Course – A Self-Healing Guide to Auto Accident Trauma & Recovery. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books.

© 2013 Maria Stella, PhD. All Rights Reserved.