Trauma is a disturbing experience that can affect you emotionally and mentally. Therapy can help heal the psychological wounds that came from your trauma. However, not every form of counseling including trauma therapy is effective for every individual.
Trauma therapy is a type of counseling that needs to be specific to each person. The goal is to reduce the symptoms of conditions that result from extreme trauma. Conditions that include:
- Anxiety Disorders
- Depressive Disorders
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Bipolar Disorder
- Personality Disorders
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Nearly 70% of adults will experience a traumatic event in their lives. About 20% will go on to develop a trauma-related reaction or mental health disorder from the event(s). Emotions and memories that come from a traumatic event can be debilitating and trigger alcohol or drug abuse and the symptoms of a mental health disorder. However, there are therapy treatments that can help you overcome these conditions.
Trauma therapy for adults, or trauma-focused therapy, is a distinct approach to therapy that identifies and emphasizes understanding how the traumatic experience affects a person’s mental, behavioral, emotional, physical, and spiritual health.
This type of therapy is grounded in understanding the link between the traumatic experience and the person’s emotional and behavioral responses. The purpose is to provide skills and strategies to help the individual understand, cope with, and process emotions and memories tied to traumatic experiences. The end goal is to enable the child, adolescent, or adult survivor to heal from the effects of the trauma.
There are three main types of trauma that the individual may be dealing with:
This arises from a single traumatic experience, such as an accident, sexual assault, or natural disaster
Chronic trauma occurs when a person experiences multiple, long-term, or prolonged traumatic events. This may come from many sources and can happen at any time in a person’s life. Examples include:
- Domestic violence
- Sexual abuse
- Long-term illness
This type of trauma usually refers to drawn-out abuse or neglect that occurs during childhood and is frequently committed by a caregiver or someone in a position of authority. It typically involves multiple traumatic experiences and may include instances of childhood abuse, neglect, or continued exposure to domestic violence or civil unrest.
What can help people who have experienced trauma? Here are five common types of trauma-focused therapy:
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common treatment for a variety of mental health conditions. There are several versions of CBT but to help process trauma, the therapist will typically use trauma-focused CBT. CBT is a talk therapy that examines the person’s thought patterns and how they influence their behaviors and choices. It helps the individual identify how some of their thoughts and behaviors have been inaccurate or unhelpful. People can use CBT to develop more helpful, accurate thinking patterns to develop coping behaviors that can decrease symptoms and improve their quality of life.
Exposure therapy helps people confront and overcome their fears. PE is based on the idea that if a person doesn’t emotionally process trauma during or soon after the event, they can experience symptoms of fear afterward and it can affect their daily life. In PE, people are gradually exposed to their trauma-related memories, thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations. It helps people break their patterns of avoidance by creating a safe environment where they can face what they fear.
Cognitive processing therapy helps the person recognize their beliefs and thoughts about a traumatic experience and how their thoughts are contributing to the dysfunction in their life. This is a combination of CBT and exposure techniques.
EMDR is an evidence-based treatment that helps people process their traumatic experiences to help them heal. It focuses mainly on addressing the way the memory of the event is stored in the person’s brain to reduce their symptoms. It doesn’t require that the person explain their trauma in detail. During sessions, the person will do eye movements or tapping while focusing on an image connected to the trauma. This helps them become “unstuck,” allowing their brain to go through the natural process of healing.
This approach focuses on different factors that might affect or cause a person’s PTSD symptoms including experiences and coping mechanisms. By focusing on the person’s unconscious mind and how it influences their behavior, the therapist can help the person recognize and process the painful, unconscious feelings so they can be let go instead of being avoided.
The time necessary for treatment can vary depending on the type of trauma the person has, the symptoms they’re experiencing, and the technique the therapist uses. Most of the time, treatment methods last between 8 and 15 weeks. Still, each person’s experience may be different.
Studies have shown that between 77% and 100% of people who regularly attend customized trauma therapy sessions will experience a reduction in their symptoms. This is similar to studies on trauma patients who used medications to treat their trauma symptoms. Furthermore:
- A study of single-trauma victims no longer had PTSD after only three 90-minute sessions
- 77% of combat veterans were free of PTSD after 12 sessions
- According to the updated 2023 report, The National Center for PTSD has found that 53 of 100 patients who receive one of the treatments mentioned will no longer have PTSD. But with medication alone, 42 out of 100 will achieve remission.
Different from other therapy approaches, trauma therapy goes deeper into a person’s memory of a painful experience to help them be able to “release” it. It helps the person’s mind and body realize that the trauma is over and part of their history, not their present.
Trauma-focused therapy considers the complicated effect of trauma on a person’s well-being and the ways it affects their ability to cope. Unlike regular therapy, it combines an awareness of trauma into every facet of treatment, while still making safety a priority. Trauma therapists must get specialized training in methods that can help a person “reset” their mind and body after experiencing a trauma.
Understanding more about the signs of trauma, how it affects the brain, and how it’s treated can help you or someone close to you recognize the problem and start taking steps forward.
Not all people respond to trauma in the same way but there are some common signs:
- Intrusive thoughts
- Memory problems
- Problems concentrating
- Mood swings
- Avoiding anything that reminds you of the experience
- Isolating from family, friends, and previously enjoyed activities
- Panic attacks
- Fear and anger
- Obsessions and compulsions
- Emotional numbing
- Shame and guilt
- Sleep problems
- Extreme exhaustion
- Easily startled
- Changed eating patterns
- Sexual dysfunction
People who struggle with trauma can sometimes feel like they’re fighting a war within themselves. Basically, each symptom of trauma was caused by the person’s body as a solution to the traumatic event. Understanding why each symptom was the body’s response to protect the person has the potential to set the stage for healing. This is especially helpful for the therapist as well as the patient. They can ultimately find the words to explain what they’ve been feeling.
You don’t have to be controlled by the past. Eagle Creek Ranch in Nampa, Idaho has trained, experienced professionals who can help you throw off the ghosts that have haunted you. And because we know that many individuals who struggle with trauma also struggle with substance use disorder, our treatment center can provide you or your loved one with comprehensive treatment for both disorders. This is known as a dual diagnosis.
Approximately 50% of drug and alcohol abusers have a mental illness. That’s because mental health and addiction have confusingly interrelated parts. Most of the time, addiction can affect your mental health but on the other hand, many times mental health disorders can lead to addiction. These two conditions need to be treated at the same time, and Eagle Creek is prepared for that.
Depending on your needs, we can provide a safe, professionally supervised detox and a residential treatment center. Eagle Creek offers many types of addiction therapy services including holistic therapy, to aid in the healing of your whole self–mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually because trauma takes a toll on every aspect of your well-being.
You owe it to yourself to check this out. You weren’t always fearful. Contact us today and find out how we can help you.