Finding Healing and Hope: Dr. Mark McNear’s Journey Through Trauma and Faith


Catch the full episode of the podcast episode with Dr. Mark McNear here. 

I was thrilled in this episode to have Dr. Mark McNear as our guest, an author, speaker, and psychotherapist from Northwest New Jersey. In this insightful conversation, we’ll delve into Dr. McNear’s remarkable journey, his book “Finding My Words,” and his inspiring story of overcoming trauma and finding hope in Jesus Christ.

Meet Dr. Mark McNear

Before we dive into the discussion, let’s get to know Dr. McNear better. He began his journey at Bible college, intending to become a pastor. However, life had other plans for him. Facing his struggles and seeking healing, he found solace in counseling and felt called to become a psychotherapist. This path led him to New York University, where he studied psychology, later specializing in trauma therapy.

Dr. Mark McNear

“Finding My Words” – A Book of Healing

During the interview, Dr. McNear’s book, “Finding My Words,” takes center stage. The book chronicles his journey over the last eight years, starting with a period of substance abuse that led him to rehab. Through therapy, he discovered deep-rooted childhood trauma that left him unable to communicate the pain and suffering he endured.

The book is divided into three parts, each offering a unique perspective on his life. The first part takes us through his time in rehab, where he struggled to articulate his story. The second part delves into complex trauma from his childhood, shining a light on the events that shaped him. The book’s third part is uplifting and reveals the hope he found in Jesus Christ, showcasing the transformative power of faith.

Addressing Trauma

One of the crucial aspects of Dr. McNear’s story is his experience with complex trauma. While PTSD typically stems from a single traumatic incident, difficult trauma results from events that negatively impact a person’s life. Dr. McNear compares PTSD to one pancake on a plate, while complex trauma is like stacking multiple pancakes. Throughout the book, he shares how these unresolved traumas triggered unexpected reactions and how therapy helped him trace their origins.

Hand reaching out touching the sunset over a lake

A Message of Hope

Dr. McNear’s story’s power lies in how he refuses to shy away from the darkness. He emphasizes that healing is a journey, often starting with brokenness and despair. However, God is at work in those moments, slowly piecing together the shattered fragments and bringing restoration and hope.

Navigating Faith Amid Adversity

Dr. McNear’s faith journey is a testament to God’s unyielding love and grace. It didn’t happen overnight, nor was it a smooth path. His faith in Christ developed as he encountered different experiences and found guidance through various individuals and books.

The Importance of Awareness

Dr. McNear emphasized the significance of awareness in recognizing and understanding trauma. Family members and loved ones play a crucial role in identifying changes in behavior and temperament, even when individuals may not realize or acknowledge their trauma. Loved ones can provide much-needed support and help individuals seek appropriate care by being attentive and observant.

Building a Toolbox of Self-Care Techniques

To cope with trauma, Dr. McNear stressed the importance of creating a toolbox of self-care techniques tailored to individual needs. He mentioned various strategies such as exercise, walking, talking with friends, breathing exercises, mindfulness, journaling, hobbies, playing with animals, listening to music, and spending time outdoors. These activities help regulate emotions, calm the body, and promote well-being. Individuals must find what works best for them and regularly practice self-care.

Putting hands together touching

The Complexity of Simple Actions

Johnny Sanders raised an interesting question: Why can seemingly simple activities like going for a walk be difficult for individuals who have experienced trauma? Dr. McNear explained that trauma survivors might struggle with self-compassion and kindness towards themselves due to a lack of previous experiences with service. Overcoming this mindset is essential to prioritize self-care and engage in activities that promote healing.

Trauma can cause individuals to become hypervigilant, constantly on edge and anticipating danger. This heightened alertness can make engaging in seemingly mundane activities challenging without feeling overwhelmed or triggered. Something as simple as going for a walk can bring about anxiety and fear because the trauma survivor’s brain is wired to perceive potential threats in the environment.

Moreover, trauma often disconnects individuals from their bodies. They may feel dissociated or detached, making engaging in activities that require physical presence and grounding difficult. Dr. McNear highlighted the importance of gentle self-encouragement and patience when facing these challenges. By gradually exposing oneself to triggering situations while practicing self-compassion, trauma survivors can reclaim their sense of safety and progressively engage in activities they enjoy.

Understanding the Toolbox Analogy

Sanders and Dr. McNear discussed the idea of a toolbox analogy for trauma recovery. Just as a toolbox contains various tools for different purposes, individuals must identify and utilize the best self-care techniques for them. It’s essential to recognize that what works for one person may not work for another, and each individual’s journey is unique. The focus should be on finding effective strategies to support healing and well-being.

Dr. McNear emphasized the importance of exploring different tools and techniques to discover what resonates with each individual. What brings comfort and relief to one person may not have the same effect on another. It’s crucial to approach the healing process with an open mind and a willingness to experiment with various self-care strategies. Some individuals may find solace in meditation and mindfulness practices, while others may prefer engaging in creative activities such as painting or writing. The key is finding what brings peace and restoration to one’s mind, body, and soul.

Old tree with winding roots and branches with sun shining through

The Journey of Healing

Dr. McNear emphasized that healing from trauma is an ongoing process, not a linear path. He shared his journey of recovery, which involved experiences of panic attacks, rehab, and periods of depression and anxiety. Despite these challenges, he highlighted the importance of having a support system and safe people who can provide understanding and sit with individuals as they navigate their struggles. Healing is a journey that requires patience, self-compassion, and the willingness to reach out for help.

Trauma recovery involves facing and processing deep-rooted pain and wounds. It requires individuals to confront their traumas and work through their emotions and memories. This process can be incredibly challenging and often requires the guidance of trained professionals such as therapists or counselors. Dr. McNear encouraged trauma survivors to seek professional help and surround themselves with a supportive network of friends and family who can offer empathy, validation, and unconditional love.

Acknowledging that healing from trauma is not a quick fix or an overnight process is essential. It’s a journey that unfolds gradually, with ups and downs. There will be setbacks and moments of doubt, but it’s crucial to remember that healing is possible. Individuals can reclaim their lives and find a sense of wholeness with time, patience, and perseverance.

Final Thoughts

Dr. Mark McNear’s story is a compelling testament to the human spirit’s resilience and the transformative power of faith in Jesus Christ. His book, “Finding My Words,” is a beacon of hope for those facing complex trauma or seeking restoration. This powerful narrative serves as a reminder that even in the darkest moments, the light of hope shines through. Dr. McNear’s journey of healing and faith offers valuable insights and lessons for all of us. One of the key takeaways from Dr. McNear’s story is the importance of awareness and understanding when it comes to trauma. Whether you have experienced trauma or a loved one supporting someone on their healing journey, it is crucial to recognize the signs and impact of trauma. By being aware and informed, we can provide the necessary support and create a safe environment for healing.

Furthermore, Dr. McNear’s emphasis on self-care techniques and building a toolbox of strategies is invaluable. Trauma recovery requires a holistic approach that addresses an individual’s physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects. Engaging in activities promoting self-care, such as exercise, mindfulness, creative expression, and connecting with nature, can help trauma survivors regulate their emotions, reduce stress, and cultivate a sense of well-being.

The toolbox analogy reminds us there is no one-size-fits-all solution for trauma recovery. Each individual’s journey is unique, and exploring different self-care techniques and finding what works best for oneself is essential. It may involve trial and error, but with patience and perseverance, individuals can discover the tools and strategies that resonate with their needs and facilitate their healing process.

sunset through hills

Another significant aspect of Dr. McNear’s story is acknowledging that healing from trauma is not a linear path. It is a process that unfolds over time, with its ups and downs. There may be setbacks and moments of doubt, but remaining committed to the healing journey and seeking the necessary support is essential. Having a support system of understanding and compassionate individuals can make a significant difference in navigating the challenges of trauma recovery.

Faith and spirituality played a central role in Dr. McNear’s healing journey. His story highlights the transformative power of faith in Jesus Christ and its role in providing hope, strength, and resilience. Integrating spirituality into the healing process can give a sense of purpose, guidance, and comfort for those who find solace in their faith.

In conclusion, Dr. Mark McNear’s journey through trauma and faith is an inspiring testament to the human capacity for healing and transformation. His story offers valuable insights into the challenges of trauma recovery, the importance of self-care, the power of awareness and understanding, and the role of faith in finding hope and resilience. Whether you are personally navigating the aftermath of trauma or supporting someone on their healing journey, may Dr. McNear’s story serve as a source of encouragement, reminding you that healing is possible and there is hope for a brighter future.