Husserl’s Understanding of Meaning Making: An Introduction to Healing Trauma

Are you struggling to make sense of your traumatic experiences? Do you feel stuck in a cycle of pain and suffering? If so, you’re not alone. Trauma can be overwhelming, leaving us feeling powerless and disconnected from the world around us. But what if there was a way to heal that didn’t involve suppressing or ignoring our emotions? Enter Husserl’s understanding of meaning making – an approach that offers hope for those seeking healing after trauma.

Introduction to Husserl’s Understanding of Meaning Making

In Husserl’s understanding of meaning making, there is a three-fold structure to every experience: the lived body, the ego, and the world. The lived body is our immediate experience of our physicality; it is pre-reflective and not yet conceptualized. The ego is the center of conscious experience; it is reflective and aware of itself. The world is the totality of all that is experienced by the ego.

When we suffer trauma, it is because something has happened that disrupts this three-fold structure. Trauma shatters our sense of self and our relationship to the world. We may feel disconnected from our bodies and unable to trust our own perceptions. In order to heal from trauma, we must first reconnect with ourselves and then begin to rebuild our sense of meaning in the world.

Husserl’s understanding of meaning making can help us to do this. By attending to our immediate experience in the present moment, we can begin to repair the damage done by trauma and start to create a new narrative for our lives.

The Phenomenological Approach to Healing Trauma

Trauma is an event that causes psychological damage. It can be a single event or repeated exposure to a traumatic situation. The effects of trauma can be short-term or long-term, and can include physical, emotional, and behavioral problems.

The phenomenological approach to healing trauma focuses on the individual’s lived experience of the event or situation. This includes the person’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in response to the trauma. The aim is to understand the individual’s subjective experience of the trauma and to help them make meaning of it.

This approach can be helpful in addressing the long-term effects of trauma, as it allows for a deep understanding of the individual’s experience. It can also help address any negative beliefs or assumptions that may have formed as a result of the trauma.

Exploring the Impact of Meaning Making on Recovery

It has long been understood that meaning making is integral to the healing process. In recent years, however, there has been a growing body of research specifically examining the impact of meaning making on recovery from trauma. This research has shown that meaning making is not only important for survivors of traumatic events, but can also be a key factor in predicting post-traumatic growth.

Meaning making refers to the process of understanding and interpreting the events of one’s life in order to make sense of them. This process is often described as constructing a narrative, or story, about one’s life. For survivors of trauma, meaning making can be a way to make sense of their experience and find a new sense of self and purpose.

Research on the impact of meaning making on recovery from trauma has shown that it can play a vital role in both short-term and long-term adjustment. In the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event, survivors who are able to make meaning out of their experience are more likely to have less post-traumatic stress symptoms and greater psychological well-being than those who cannot make meaning out of their experience. In the long term, survivors who engage in meaningful activities such as writing about their experience or talking with others about what happened are more likely to report positive post-traumatic growth than those who do not engage in these activities.

While there is still much to learn about how best to facilitate meaning making for survivors of trauma, the existing research provides strong evidence for its importance

Developing New Meaning Through Reflection and Reframing

Husserl’s understanding of meaning making is based on the idea that we create meaning in our lives through reflection and reframing. This process of meaning making is what allows us to heal from trauma and move forward in our lives.

When we reflect on our experiences, we are able to see them from a different perspective and learn from them. This new understanding can then be used to reframe our current beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. This process of reflection and reframing allows us to create new meaning in our lives, which can lead to healing from trauma.

Adapting Husserl’s Ideas in Your Own Practice

Edmund Husserl’s work on meaning making is highly influential in the field of trauma studies. His ideas can be adapted to your own practice in a number of ways.

First, Husserl’s work emphasizes the importance of attending to lived experience. This means that in your own practice, you should aim to create a space in which clients can feel safe enough to share their stories. It is only through story-telling that we can begin to make sense of our lives and experiences.

Second, Husserl’s work highlights the role of language in meaning making. He argues that language is not just a tool for communication, but actually shapes the way we think and understand the world. In your own practice, you can create a space for clients to explore the language they use to talk about their experiences. This will help them to become more aware of how their experiences are shaped by language, and may also help them to find new ways of understanding and talking about their trauma.

Third, Husserl’s work emphasizes the importance of relationships in meaning making. He argues that we cannot make sense of our lives without considering our relationships with others. In your own practice, you can create opportunities for clients to reflect on their relationships with others, both past and present. This may help them to understand how their relationships have been affected by trauma, and may also help them to develop new and healthier relationships going forward.


Husserl’s understanding of meaning making is a powerful tool for healing trauma. By recognizing the subjective nature of our experience, we can begin to create new meanings in response to traumatic events, allowing us to move forward with greater resilience and insight. While this process may be difficult and uncomfortable, it provides an opportunity for growth through self-reflection and empowerment. As we embrace Husserl’s insights into meaning making, we open ourselves up to transformative possibilities that lead towards healing and lasting change.