Trauma Therapy: Healing from Traumatic Events and PTSD
John hasn’t been able to sleep for the past 6 months. Sure, he’s able to close his eyes and drift off for a few minutes, but he quickly awakens. The traffic whizzing by outside and the deafening sound of his ceiling fan are triggering.
He feels threatened by these noises. His psyche assumes that a car is pulling up to attack him or an enemy’s helicopter is overhead.
Determined to improve his quality of life, John decides to work with a trauma therapist. After a few sessions, John feels better, just from talking about what happened to him while serving in the military.
He feels his mind and body relax. His therapist continues to encourage him to detail the events he witnessed and in turn confront his trauma. After several months of therapy, John can sleep through the night again.
What Is Trauma?
Trauma is a seriously distressing or disturbing experience that often has negative psychological effects on an individual. There are many different types of trauma, including:
- Physical or sexual assault
- Domestic violence
- Emotional abuse
- Natural disasters
- The loss of a loved one
- Car or plane accidents
- Military combat
- Childhood trauma like being bullied
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is characterized by certain symptoms of trauma that develop after the event.
While symptoms can vary, the following emotional and behavioral symptoms are common among trauma survivors:
- Recurrent distressing memories and/or dreams of the traumatic event
- Flashbacks where the individual feels as if they’re experiencing the trauma again
- Intense psychological distress when exposed to triggers that resemble the traumatic event or remind the individual of the traumatic event
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Lack of interest in activities he or she used to enjoy
- Feelings of detachment from others or everyday life
- Inability to experience positive emotions, such as happiness and fulfillment
- Reckless or self-destructive behavior
Many individuals find it difficult to manage these symptoms and heal from their psychological trauma. Fortunately, trauma therapists can help.
What Is Trauma Therapy? How Does It Work?
Trauma therapy, also known as PTSD therapy, assists those who have been exposed to a traumatic event. Trauma therapists focus on helping their clients achieve the following:
1) Confront their experience head-on.
Exposure therapy was developed to help people confront their traumas and their fears. For example, a therapist treating a client who has had a traumatic experience with a snake might immerse them in prolonged exposure to snakes. This might involve showing them pictures or videos of snakes or even being near one in person.
2) Cope with the harmful effects of trauma.
Unwanted side effects of trauma might include feeling fearful or on edge around other people. Trauma therapists can help their clients cope with their specific effects using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and cognitive processing therapy (CPT). These forms of therapy focus on correcting one’s unhelpful thoughts and behaviors.
3) Move forward with their life.
Unfortunately, traumatic experiences can have a negative impact on an individual’s relationships with friends and family members, their professional life, and other important areas. Trauma-informed therapy recognizes this widespread impact and helps the individual move forward with their life.
While trauma therapists may differ in their approach to therapy, they are focused on helping their clients heal. This means analyzing a client’s particular presentation, exposure to trauma, and specific goals for therapy. Once they conduct their analysis, they can then tailor treatment to best help an individual.
Common Approaches to Trauma or PTSD Therapy
There are additional forms of therapy commonly used to treat victims of trauma that we have not yet touched on. These include:
1) Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TFCBT)
TFCBT is essentially cognitive behavioral therapy tailored for people who have had traumatic experiences. This is a form of short-term talk therapy that helps clients confront and manage their thoughts related to the trauma.
2) Psychodynamic psychotherapy
In psychodynamic therapy, you will discuss your symptoms and detail the trauma you have experienced. This form of therapy depends on a strong client-therapist relationship. It is rooted in unveiling internal conflicts that are harming the client.
It also places a heavy focus on how relationships affect an individual: specifically, how they affect one’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
3) Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
The main goal of EMDR is to remove the blockage that is preventing the client from moving forward. This is accomplished through external stimulus (such as eye movement or hand-tapping). The stimulus directs your attention outward and is administered by the therapist while you talk about your trauma.
The above might prove helpful in your treatment journey, or another form of therapy might be necessary. Also, keep in mind that sometimes it takes more than one type of therapy to heal from trauma.
Online Trauma Therapy
Some therapists and psychologists can provide online trauma counseling, too. If you are seeking online mental health help for a traumatic experience, your therapist can use methods rooted in talk therapy. Telehealth sessions are a great option for receiving this type of care, as there are many benefits of online trauma therapy. For example:
- Comfort: Many people feel more comfortable talking to a therapist or counselor virtually. It takes the edge off and enables them to open up more quickly. This proves especially true for people who have been through distressing experiences like trauma.
- Convenience: Online trauma counseling is also more convenient than in-person sessions for many people. Telehealth sessions allow people to attend their appointments from home, over the phone or video. They don’t have to worry about traveling to the office to meet with their trauma therapist.
Online trauma therapy is a comfortable, convenient option. There are many other benefits to talking to your trauma counselor virtually as well. If you’re interested, you can get started with online trauma counseling at Thriveworks today.
Quick Facts About Trauma
- According to the National Center for PTSD, 7-8% of the population will have PTSD at some point in their lives.
- Around 8 million adults have PTSD in any given year.
- More than 13 million people or an estimated 5% of Americans have PTSD at any given time.
- Women are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD. About 10 out of every 100 women (10%) develop PTSD in their lifetime compared with 4 out of every 100 men.
- According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), more than two-thirds of US kids experience trauma by age 16.
- In 2015, 683,000 kids experienced child abuse or neglect.
- More than half of US families have been affected by some form of disaster.