Trauma Meaning Recovery Support

Trauma shatters deeply-held core beliefs about us and our world as violently as an explosion shatters glass. We may have thought the world was a safe place, or that we were loved. But trauma locks us in darkness where we cannot retrieve that safety and care. Meaning is equally necessary in recovery after trauma, since trauma destroys our previous meanings in life. Recovery is the hope of persons who are in darkness, building a personal narrative that uses the scaffold of new meanings to positively transform the trauma and the self. Relationship sustains meaning reconstruction through emotional support that promotes recovery.

Book: Leaving Darkness Behind

New Book


Dr. Betsy Altmaier has produced an exceptional and sensitive book specifically for survivors of child sexual abuse. She offers information about her own abuse experience, coupled with sound psychological information about what it takes to leave the darkness of sexual abuse behind and to live life forward. Her information is hopeful and encourages the view of recovery as a process that requires perseverance over time. Her suggested readings and exercises are “on point” and support the recovery process in a very practical way. Highly recommended!

Christine A. Courtois, PhD, ABPP,

Licensed Psychologist and Author

This informative book brings a combination of new research, insights, and strategies to help survivors of child sexual abuse. It offers the resources and strategies survivors will need at different points in their recovery. The author offers both the expertise of a seasoned therapist and researcher, and the empathy and deep understanding of someone who is a survivor herself—a combination that will no doubt engender both trust and encouragement.

Beverly Engel, LMFT,


Elizabeth (Betsy) Altmaier is a psychologist who studied trauma among patients diagnosed with cancer, persons with chronic pain, and adults after interpersonal injuries. Traumatic life circumstances meet the definition of trauma proposed by Judith Herman: traumatic events overwhelm ordinary systems of care that give people a sense of control, connection, and meaning. But it is an extraordinary fact that we can also respond to trauma with enduring positive changes in important life domains such as spirituality and interpersonal relationships. Betsy's focus on meaning making and other positive processes, such as forgiveness, gives her work a person-centered perspective.

Betsy earned a B.A. in Psychology from Wheaton College, and an M.A. and PhD in Psychology from The Ohio State University. She was on the psychology faculty at the University of Florida from 1977 to 1980 and the counseling psychology faculty at the University of Iowa from 1980 until her retirement in 2015. During her academic career, she authored over 100 books and articles and mentored 55 students.

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a photo of Elizabeth (Betsy) Altmaier