Every Trauma Therapist Needs To Know This: The Levels Of Trauma Awareness

One of the most challenging parts of selling and marketing trauma therapy services is when you have a sense of who you help and how you help them but not being able to clearly define who they are or how to speak to them.

It’s common with trauma therapists because while everyone has trauma, most trauma therapists don’t want to work with everyone.

As a trauma therapist, who do you want to work with? And how can you speak to them? How can you answer these questions?

Introducing Kat Love’s Levels of Trauma Awareness

Doing your sales and marketing to the stages that your best-fit trauma client is in is critical.

Instead of trying to come up with a perfect label or description for who you help. Just meet them where they are in their level of trauma awareness.

Each level is experiencing a very specific set of struggles. And they also desire different things. Knowing what level your best-fit client is at helps guide your sales and marketing words.

You Do Not Need To

  • Convince someone they have trauma
  • Educate someone about what trauma is so they can figure out if they need trauma therapy
  • Start doing therapy with them in your sales and marketing

Instead, Use The Levels Of Awareness To Meet Them Where They Are In Their Journey

Most trauma therapists have a favorite client to work with. And that favorite client will land in one of the levels outlined below. The steps are:

  1. Pinpoint what stage of awareness your favorite client is at
  2. For sales and marketing, speak ONLY to the awareness level of that client
  3. If you have more than one favorite client you’d like to attract, awesome! Just create separate sales and marketing messages that speak to them too

What I typically find is that when a trauma therapist is introduced to these levels, they are easily able to identify where along the journey their favorite clients are at. From there, sales and marketing are super simplified.

Level 1: Unaware

People in this level are not aware of any problems.

Sounds like:

  • “Four beers every night is not alcoholic, I just do it to unwind”
  • “Why would I need therapy? I’m fine”
  • “This is just who I am.”

Level 2: Unwanted Circumstance Or Symptom Aware

Aware of unwanted circumstances or symptoms but not totally aware of the diagnosis. For example, they may be able to clearly explain all of their symptoms of depression but not yet be aware that it’s called “depression.”

Important! this level is when they may start to look for therapy!

  • Examples of unwanted circumstances: finding yourself in bad relationships, in a high-stress job, strained family relationships
  • Examples of unwanted symptoms: feeling empty or lost or stuck, feeling constantly overwhelmed, feeling like somethings wrong but not feeling sure what it is, headaches, sick often, lack of motivation, loss of ability to feel excitement or pleasure, never feeling calm

Sounds like:

  • “Everything is overwhelming!”
  • “My boss keeps giving me extra work to do and I’m constantly working overtime and I don’t know how to get out of it”
  • “I don’t get along with my sister and it’s awful. Christmas was a nightmare”
  • “I get headaches all the time and have trouble sleeping, I don’t know what’s up”
  • “I can’t seem to calm down. There’s always so much to do so I’m always doing something. My brain is working all the time.”

Example Pages On Your Website That Would Speak To This Level

  • Therapy
  • Individual Therapy

Level 3: Core Challenge Aware  

This level the person has better labels for their experience. They have awareness of the core challenge they face. For instance, they may be struggling with anxiety, depression, grief and/or able to name protective strategies: eating disorders, workaholicism, substances, addiction, codependency, self-harm, people pleasing

  • They don’t know what caused the challenge (it’s trauma) but they know what the challenge is called
  • They may be looking to alter external circumstances to “fix” their issue – things like relationships/other people, what their body looks like, career or business, where they live, what lifestyle they have
  • They may still be unaware of how much of their identity/desired goals are based on staying protected.
  • They may have graduated to higher level coping like yoga, personal development addiction, mindset/limiting beliefs work (some level of “solutions” may start to arise in this level)

Sounds like

  • “Why do I always do [core challenge x,y,z]??” or “Why am I like this?” (self-aware of patterns and some curiosity around it)
  • “I know I’m a workaholic but I really need that promotion this year, I need help managing my anxiety and constant migraines so I can get my promotion and then I’ll feel better” (set on achieving a goal to feel better instead of doing the inner work to feel better)
  • “If I just learn how to communicate with my husband, that will fix the relationship” (external skill needed instead of trauma healing)
  • “If I force myself to go to yoga every day, sometimes it helps. But I still struggle so much” (figured out some healthier coping but disappointed it’s not enough)

Example Pages On Your Website That Would Speak To This Level

  • Anxiety Therapy
  • Depression Therapy
  • Therapy For People Pleasers
  • Therapy For Substance Abuse

Level 4: Trauma Aware 

They know the cause of their challenges is trauma. At this stage, they usually can cite what trauma they experienced to various levels of specificity. It could be their whole childhood was traumatic or could be more specific to a particular incident, set of incidents, circumstance, or relationship. No matter how specific they are able to be, a person in level 4:

  • Already understands what trauma is
  • Understands that they experienced trauma and what those experiences where (various levels of specificity)

Sounds like:

  • “Being sexually abused as a kid is really effecting me as an adult. I feel like it could be what’s driving my anxiety day-to-day and I want to heal and feel better”
  • “When my husband doesn’t contribute to taking care of the household responsibilities, it triggers my stuff from when I had to be the responsible one in my house as a kid. My trauma is really effecting my relationship.”
  • “Wow, my entire personality is a trauma response” (May be paired with a feeling of not knowing who they are, identitylessness).

Example Pages On Your Website That Would Speak To This Level

  • Trauma Therapy
  • Therapy For Sexual Trauma Survivors
  • Therapy For Childhood Trauma

Level 5: Solution Aware

Aware of the solution. That solution could be either:

  1. The strategy they need to implement: nervous system regulation techniques, better boundaries, improving my relationship with myself, trust myself, mindfulness
  2. The healing/modality they desire: for example, EMDR, “Bottom up”, evidence-based, Somatic,

Sounds like:

  1. “I need to practice setting better boundaries. I know it’s good to set them but I feel really guilty when I do so I’m looking for support with that.”
  2. “I want EMDR to heal my trauma”
  3. “I watched the psychadelic documentary on Netflix and I want to give it a try to rewire my nervous system”
  4. “I need skills for nervous system regulation”
  5. “I want to trust myself more and connect into my intuition. I feel like I usually know what I feel, need, and want but it gets blocked by overthinking”

Example Pages On Your Website That Would Speak To This Level

  • All “Trauma Therapy” Types of Pages
  • EMDR
  • Psychedelic Assisted Therapy
  • Somatic Experiencing Therapy


  • All levels include the awareness of the levels before – but a person may have mixed awareness within their own system. E.g., A client could be aware they were traumatized as a kid and that it still effects them but not aware that their current relationship is an abusive situation. If this could be true for your client, speak to the highest level they are in: they are in level 4 and are likely seeking trauma therapy. It’s ok if they are not at that level across all areas of their life.
  • Most trauma therapists help clients in levels 3 and 4
  • If you help with level 2 clients, you may need to be more generalist or more niched. E.g., “Life is overwhelming, I can help.” OR “Stress at work can be overwhelming, I can help” Sometimes you’ll also find this level of awareness seeking out marital, couple’s, or relationship counseling.
  • Level 5 clients need confirmation that you know your stuff because they are the highest-level-educated coming in. For example, if you don’t mention your modalities or that you are a trauma therapist, you may miss out
  • Levels 2-5 often have painful experiences dealing with people in their life who are level 1. Wise to speak to that in your marketing no matter what level you help.

Use The Levels To Get More Clients

No more wondering if your client wants to learn about boundaries or how much to write about EMDR… if it’s not within the client’s awareness, you don’t even have to speak to it.

Figure out who it is you are really talking to by getting clear on their level. From there, just be curious about that. How does it show up for them? What are their pains and desires? How can you speak to that? And let go of everything else.

Get more help getting clear on who your client’s are and how to speak to them in a one-on-one session with me. Would love to help you!

Kat Love

Kat Love

Hi, I'm Kat Love (they/them). Therapists helped me heal from childhood sexual abuse so now I help therapists with their marketing and business. Here on the blog, I share insights on things like marketing, social media, websites, hiring, and more. I created a solution to help you get your website copy written in the easiest way possible. I also offer a limited number of one-on-one coaching spots. Would love to help you get out there, do the important work you do, and create a life and business you love.