Ariana Grande & Trauma

Interview: Dr. Colleen Cira, Psy.D. on Ariana Grande and trauma.

Dr. Colleen Cira is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist who specializes in Women and Trauma, so I’ve worked with hundreds of people trying to cope with traumatic experiences. Here are some of her talking points on celebrity Ariana Grande’s recent response to some traumatic events that she has experienced over the last couple of years.

Ariana Grande has been coping with a multitude of difficult experiences, primarily performing at a venue where a suicide bomber killed 22 people in addition to the death of her ex-boyfriend and the break-up of her engagement. There are a few things that she’s doing that are really helpful and adaptive:

1. Talking about it. Ariana seems to be frequently asked about all of these painful experiences and it seems that at least some of the time, she is actually answering these questions. When you experience a trauma, our instinct is to avoid it, which makes sense! Humans have survived and evolved as a species because we learned to stay away from things that bring us pain. And when that comes to fire, that’s a great thing! But when that comes to emotional pain, avoiding it is just about the worst thing we can do. Fighting to get rid of your emotions is kinda like being in quicksand: the harder you fight, the deeper you sink. So the fact that she’s talking about her experiences, even though that’s a difficult thing to do, is incredibly adaptive.

2. Taking control back. Trauma almost always engenders a feeling of helplessness—this bad thing happened and there’s nothing we can do about it. Thats a dark place to be, so figuring out what IS under our control and controlling that can be really helpful when trying to recover from something traumatic. Ariana held a benefit concert, free of charge, after the suicide bomber tragedy that raised money for the families affected. She is quoted as saying that she doesn’t feel like this really did anything because it “didn’t bring anyone back,” but the fact that she’s taking control where she can is important in terms of her recovery.

3. Sublimate it. Sublimate is a psychological term that basically refers to the idea of taking something painful and turning it into something more adaptive. Ariana has experienced several very difficult experiences, all of which have involved traumatic grief and loss. The fact that she uses these awful experiences to inform her songwriting not only means that, once again, she’s not avoiding the material, but she’s also creating new meaning. Through writing and singing, she’s able to transform the tragic events into part of her life story that makes sense to her and that she’s able to draw meaning from. Creating meaning out of unthinkable events is crucial to working through trauma.


Available for Interviews: Dr. Colleen Cira, Psy.D.

Dr. Colleen Cira received both her Masters and Doctorate from The Illinois School of Professional Psychology and is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in the State of Illinois.  She’s the Founder and Executive Director of Cira Center for Behavioral Health, PC, a boutique group practice specializing in Women and Trauma with locations in Chicago and Oak Park.

She was named one of the “Top 100 Women in Chicago Making a Difference,” by Today’s Chicago Woman. Dr. Cira is a trauma and anxiety expert, clinical supervisor, writer, speaker, consultant, activist, wife, and Mommy to two little ones.

Jo Allison
PR Managing Editor
Success In Media, Inc.

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