The Aurora Dialogues Online event titled “Trauma and How to Cope with It” was organized on December 18, 2020 and focused on understanding trauma and how it affects individuals, families and communities. During the discussion that was held in Russian, the speakers also explored trauma treatment options and ways of coping with trauma symptoms.
The event was organized in cooperation with the Futures Studio discussion platform and featured psychologist Aida Vardanyan and Armen Minassian, MD. Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the Aurora Dialogues have gone online in 2020, allowing people from across the globe to join the discussion and contribute to it.
To kick off the discussion, Mr. Minassian briefly outlined the complicated situation in Armenia and the rest of the world, the negative consequences of which would be felt for a long time. “Unfortunately, we’ve found ourselves facing the perfect storm situation, with dozens of crises unfolding simultaneously. There are all the prerequisites for the survival mentality we have acquired over the years, as well as for the victim mentality, to be cemented by the war and by numerous crises. Today, we stand face to face with the phenomenon of trauma,” said Armen Minassian.
Aida Vardanyan, who is an EMRD, Brainspotting and Transactional Analysis psychologist, explained what happens when one is traumatized: “Trauma occurs when a person finds themselves in a position where their own resources, predominantly physical and psychological, are not enough to cope with the situation that unfolded. An experience is traumatizing if, at the moment of the event, we don’t have an opportunity to find protection and support for ourselves, to have someone to go down the path of this traumatizing event together.”
Aida Vardanyan also shared with the audience a detailed presentation dedicated to this topic and gave the participants some general recommendations regarding working with emotions, first of all, self-pity: “If it’s self-pity from the position of a victim – “oh, I’m so unfortunate” – then it’s bringing us back to the traumatizing experience. If we’re talking about “see, I’m weak, helpless, desolate,” it’s bringing us back to the trauma, to those convictions: nobody can help me, I can’t trust anyone in this life; and those are negative convictions. In reality, one is capable of working with one’s emotions.”
Summing up the discussion, Armen Minassian thanked Aida Vardanyan for such thought-provoking insights and quoted Austrian psychologist Viktor Frankl who was a Holocaust survivor: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”