A Guide to Trauma Therapy
What Is Trauma?
Trauma is a seriously distressing or disturbing experience that often has negative psychological effects on an individual. There are many different traumatic experiences, 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
What Are Symptoms of Trauma?
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
Dealing with trauma and managing symptoms can be difficult. Fortunately, trauma treatment 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 performance at work, and other important areas of life. Trauma-informed therapy recognizes this widespread impact and helps individuals 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.
Types of Trauma 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.
Is There 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 through video. They don’t have to worry about traveling to the office to meet with their trauma therapist.
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.