Trauma is unfortunately a universal human phenomenon. It occurs in the aftermath of an overwhelming force and can result from natural disasters, the actions of other human beings, and accidents or atrocities at all scales of human life. Studies from clinical psychology have led to the development of therapies that help ameliorate its impact, but standard treatment is typically expensive and waiting lists tend to be prevalent and long among psychiatric hospitals for inpatient and outpatient treatment. Many of these therapies are spatial in nature, which suggests that it may be possible to adapt studied healing principles into architectural form and promote healing outside of the clinical environment. By doing so, architects could potentially reach a wider audience than those that typically benefit from clinical treatment.
By adapting trauma therapies into architectural form, it may also be possible to change the narrative around healing—both within our profession and at the community scale—to do justice to the difficulty required to heal by destigmatizing the process and reframing recovery around spatial narratives that promote bravery, perseverance, self-reliance, and community support. For my thesis, I catalogue existing trauma therapies by their architectural touchpoints and illustrate their potential for adaptation through small-scale architectural projects and full-scale mechanistic testing.