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Is It Safe To Watch Triggering TV Shows?

Sex, violence, crime, and widespread substance abuse have long been standard facets of entertainment in television. Humans like to be disturbed, the entertainment industry seemingly has come to believe, and a shock factor always sells as “good TV”. Increasingly, there is a movement toward honest storytelling and authentic depictions of topics like substance abuse with their real life consequences. Cinematic therapy can be an extremely healing and educational experience when recovering from trauma, addictions, and related mental health issues. As we discussed in a previous article, we find connection to our own trauma stories by watching others have their own trauma experiences, or the effects of trauma experiences, on screen.

When we are in the early stages of recovery, we might feel triggered or uncomfortable by what we see on television. Though there can be a therapeutic learning process involved, without clinical support on hand like it would be at a treatment center, we could be left reeling in trauma symptoms. Over time in trauma recovery, we learn that our responses to trauma and triggers are our responsibility and that we are capable of managing, as well as regulating, those responses. In the early stages, however, our responses can still feel out of our control, overwhelming, and extremely uncomfortable which, simply put, we don’t have to be feeling unnecessarily.

Triggering television shows are overall safe in the sense that they won’t actually cause us any direct harm. However, they can inspire harmful thoughts, feelings, and behaviors which might cause us to act in self-harming ways. For example, the controversial Netflix series 13 Reasons Why has outwardly portrayed suicide, substance abuse, intravenous drug use, sexual assault, rape, and more. Research studies did find that there were increases in psychological distress among the show’s primary audience, teenagers. As well, there were reports of increased suicide attempts, prompting doctors and professionals to speak out against the show while urging parents to prevent their children from watching.

As your recovery from trauma progresses, you will have little issue being exposed to triggers on television or elsewhere in life. While you are starting to become comfortable with your feelings and learn about your trauma responses, keep your television consumption restricted to what you know brings you joy, comfort, happiness, or safe emotional release.

You can walk through your trauma. The Guest House Ocala offers residential treatment programming for trauma, addictions, and related mental health issues. Call us today for information on our customized programs and availability: 1-855-483-7800