What is Trauma therapy
Trauma therapy is just that – a form of talk therapy aimed at treating the emotional and mental health consequences of trauma. Trauma therapy is not one specific type of therapy. Instead, a variety of therapies can be used alone or together to help you deal with the trauma and move on with your life. If you seek trauma therapy, the best way to begin is to find out what type of therapy the counselor uses to treat trauma patients.
Trauma generally involves an event or prolonged period where you feel helpless, shocked or even experience a threat to your life.
Trauma can occur once, or on multiple occasions and an individual can experience more than one type of trauma.
Types of trauma can be:
– Physical or life-threatening events (i.e. domestic abuse, car wreck, etc.)
– Psychological trauma
– Sexual abuse/assault
– Medical trauma
– Community violence (i.e. gang-related violence, interracial violence, police and citizen altercations, etc.)
– School violence/bullying
– Military trauma
– Traumatic grief/separation
– Natural disasters
– Forced displacement (i.e. refugees)
– War/terrorism/political violence and/or being a witness to any of the above traumatic events
Individuals who have experienced one or more traumatic events might experience behavioral, social, and/or emotional issues following the event. The effects can be so severe that they interfere with an individual’s ability to live a normal life. Some severe effects can be anxiety, depression and Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Difference between trauma and PTSD
Post traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Trauma are often used interchangeably in society. Even though these two issues are related, they are different.
The main difference between PTSD and the experience of trauma is important to note. A traumatic event is time-based, while PTSD is a longer-term condition where one continues to have flashbacks and re-experiencing the traumatic event. In addition, to meet criteria for PTSD there must be a high level of ongoing distress and life impairment.
PTSD often follows a traumatic event, however not all traumatic events lead to the development of the disorder
Childhood sexual abuse is foremost in the media currently and often causes complex PTSD. However, even being made redundant from a lifetime of employment, has proved to cause PTSD in people, especially when redundancies first began.
Complex PTSD often involves a lonely life-long struggle with self-esteem, depression, anxiety and relationship problems.< When trauma continues along the life path, a person may be diagnosed with personality disorders.
Common type of trauma therapy
Several treatments can help people with trauma to cope with their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
Therapy is a first-line treatment for trauma.
While there are numerous therapy approaches, the purpose of all trauma therapy is to integrate the traumatic event into your life, not subtract it.
Types of therapy a person with trauma could benefit from include:
Cognitive behavioral therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps people identify behaviors and attitudes that reflect negatively on their lives. Patients then work to replace these negative attitudes with positive ones. Patients will often utilize these new skills in their daily lives.
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, or EMDR, is another common trauma therapy.
During EMDR, individuals briefly relive specific traumatic experiences while the therapist directs their eye movements. EMDR aims to help people process and integrate traumatic memories.
Recently the Duke of Sussex has been seen in the documentary “The me you can’t see” undergoing an EMDR online session to treat unresolved anxiety stemming from his anger at the media and the death of his mother, Princess Diana, when he was 12.
Dialectical behaviour therapy
Like other types of trauma therapy, dialectical behavior therapy aims to better regulate emotions. This form of therapy has been effective in helping those who experience suicidal thoughts. This method has been effective for a number of mental health disorders inclu
ding PTSD. It helps instill new skills to help people change unhealthy behaviors.
Group therapy is beneficial because it shows that patients are not alone in their struggles. By being in a supportive and safe environment, group members become more comfortable sharing their stories and helping others through
Other things you can do to help yourself
As well as getting help and professional treatment, and aiming to do regular exercise and lead a healthy lifestyle, there are other things you can try to help yourself.
Practicing self-care can help individuals to cope with the emotional, psychological, and physical symptoms of trauma. Examples of self-care for trauma include:
Trauma can activate the body’s fight-or-flight response. Exercise may help mitigate some of these effects.
Mindful breathing and other mindfulness-based exercises can ground people in the present, which can stop them from reliving the traumatic event.
mindfulness-based treatments are a promising intervention for PTSD, whether alone or in conjunction with other treatments.
Connections with others
Withdrawal from others is a common symptom of trauma. However, connecting with friends and family is important.
Staying in contact with people can help to prevent trauma from becoming PTSD.
It is not necessary to talk about the trauma with other people if it is too difficult. Simply engaging with others can improve mood and well-being. Some people feel a benefit from disclosing the trauma with people they trust.
A balanced lifestyle
A person with trauma may find it difficult to relax or to sleep well. However, sleep, relaxation, and diet all play a role in mental health. If possible, a person should try to:
- sleep for 7–9 hours a night
- eat a balanced diet
- avoid alcohol and drugs
- relieve stress with mindful or enjoyable activities
The importance to find the right help for your trauma
Most people will experience a traumatic event at some point in their lives. Some may experience symptoms of shock and distress, and most will recover within a short period.
A minority will experience more long-term traumatic effects, such as the development of PTSD. Trauma Therapy in conjunction with self-care can help those with persistent trauma symptoms to manage these symptoms and improve their quality of life.
People who experience persistent or severe symptoms of trauma should seek help from a mental health professional. It is especially important to seek help if the trauma symptoms interfere with daily functioning or relationships with others.
Even those with mild symptoms can feel better once they talk to someone.
Working with trauma is a highly specialized area of psychological practice, which is why it is important you seek treatment from a trained and experienced trauma psychologist or therapist.
Find the best treatment for you
Everybody has a different experience. Your symptoms, any co-conditions (like anxiety or depression), and your personal preferences will influence which treatments are best for you. Talk to your GP or mental health professional about the best treatment for you.
Sometimes, a team will be involved in your care. It’s still important that one professional coordinates and has overall responsibility for your treatment.
Reach out to us if you need any support to overcome your trauma.