Gretchen Schmelzer, PhD

Free PDF for New Trauma Healers


Gretchen Schmelzer, PhD is a licensed psychologist, trained as a Harvard Medical School Fellow. She is a trauma survivor, who has worked for twenty-five years with the complex issues of trauma, integration and behavior change across every level of system from individuals, to groups, to large systems and countries, including her role as the expert consultant Frontline for their documentary on Alaskan survivors of priest sexual abuse (aired April 19, 2011).

She leads programs using leadership development and trauma-informed emotional intelligence to help communities worldwide engage in the difficult public health issues confronting them such as AIDS and Domestic Violence. She is working on a book on long-term trauma and you can read more from Gretchen at her website, Emotional Geographic.

The Quote

Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.
Chief Seattle

What Led to the Specialization of Trauma?

When Gretchen first began seeing clients in graduate school she learned that all of her clients had experienced trauma. This fact made her quickly realize that she needed to become educated in trauma-informed treatment.

A Crucial Early Mistake

Gretchen talks about her early work in a residential center for kids and how with one of her first clients she wasn’t comfortable with being the bad guy, as she describes it, with delivering uncomfortable news to the client.

Gretchen’s Why

I think that healing from trauma is what allows people to bring their strengths and gifts to the world.

Gretchen’s advice

  • Realize that some of the difficulties and/or personality challenges that people have are the result of trauma.
  • Learn about and understand the big topics, the big building blocks, such as transition, grief, development. Once you learn about these major subjects you will have a better handle on the issues your clients bring into your office.

Gretchen’s go-to books

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Interview Links

Danny Brom
Miriam Taylor

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