Better Health Is Possible When Healing Past Trauma With Professional Help

Medically reviewed by Karen Foster, LPC
Updated April 30, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content Warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include abuse which could be triggering to the reader. If you or someone you love is experiencing abuse, contact the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Support is available 24/7. Please also see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

You're not alone if you're looking for mental health advice and support on your road to better health. Therapists are licensed and certified professionals who help people find relief from life's daily stressors.

Licensed therapists provide individuals with tools and advice for managing chronic mental health conditions and challenges like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and trauma. If you're living with a trauma-related condition or symptoms, it may be helpful to understand further how these professionals can support you.

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Are you trying to cope with past trauma and move forward?

How trauma affects mental health

Millions of people experience traumatic events in life. Trauma can affect anyone regardless of age, race, gender, or socioeconomic status. The effects of unhealed trauma can last a lifetime if left untreated and result in more serious challenges, including mental illnesses like PTSD. In addition, trauma has been linked to several damaging impacts on the physical body, including the immune system, blood sugar levels, and digestive health.

For improved health after trauma, addressing challenges adversely impacting your mental and physical health can be valuable. Attending therapy for mental and emotional traumas can provide immune support as your mind and body heal, and you understand that what happened to you was not your fault. To understand how to find support, it may first be beneficial to understand the primary causes of trauma in adults. 

Four causes of trauma and PTSD

Below are some of the most common causes of adult trauma disorders and challenges. 

Childhood attachment issues

When primary caregivers do not meet the emotional and physical needs of their infants and young children, it can result in the child developing an insecure attachment that carries over into adulthood. Adults with an insecure attachment style may struggle to develop secure relationship bonds without intervention. However, studies show that adults can change their attachment styles to secure with professional support, education, and effort. 

Early childhood abuse and neglect

A person who experiences early childhood abuse and neglect may develop insecure attachments to their primary caregiver and experience a trauma disorder due to neglect in the formative years. Unresolved trauma can appear as mental and physical symptoms that may be difficult to cope with without professional guidance. 

If you are facing or witnessing abuse of any kind, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7 for support. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or text "START" to 88788. You can also use the online chat

Physical and sexual abuse

People who experience physical or sexual abuse can have hidden emotional scars that make it difficult to achieve goals, form healthy relationships, and understand oneself. Attending therapy to reduce the effects of trauma may be beneficial to learn healthier coping skills and mindsets. Although the trauma is not your fault, it can take effort to move forward. 

If you are experiencing sexual abuse or have experienced assault, note that the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) has a hotline dedicated to supporting individuals experiencing sexual assault, harassment, or intimate partner violence. You can contact them anytime by calling 800-656-HOPE (4673) or using the online chat.

Other trauma-inducing events

Other events that can occur to induce unexpected mental trauma include but are not limited to the following:

  • The death of a loved one 
  • Divorce and separation 
  • War and war crimes 
  • Pandemics
  • Witnessing violence
  • Natural disasters 
  • Homelessness 
  • Poverty 
  • Food insecurity 

How therapy can help

Getting advice from a licensed therapist may be beneficial if you're overwhelmed, unsure, and believe you're out of options. Therapy acts as a stress reliever and enables you to receive unique advice. While seeking advice from close friends or family members may be tempting, these individuals don't replace a professional. They may not be able to offer expert advice or personalized guidance. 

Friends and family members may have your best interests at heart, but they also have a biased opinion of you based on your relationship. A licensed therapist can provide an unbiased outlook and realistic solutions for overcoming your mental health challenges based on the most up-to-date research in mental health. The support a therapist provides is how medical health doctors offer medical treatments and immune support. You might not go to your family for medical treatment, so visiting a family member for therapy advice can also be harmful. 

Therapists are clinically trained to provide coping strategies and solutions tailored to your life circumstances. When you believe you're out of options and have no place to turn, your therapist can help. 

Types of therapy for trauma

Below are some of the therapeutic formats clients can practice with their therapists. 

Individual therapy 

When a therapist and a client have one-on-one sessions for psychotherapy, it is referred to as individual therapy. A licensed mental health provider can guide you through resolving personal challenges during individual therapy sessions. There are over 400 therapeutic modalities, so your therapist can work with you to find a modality that fits your needs, depending on their specialty and interests. 

Marriage and couples therapy

Couples and married individuals can see licensed therapy providers to resolve communication and functioning challenges more cohesively as a couple. For clients who have experienced a traumatic event, marriage therapy may focus on attachment styles and how one's traumatic past impacts their marriage. One modality that takes this approach is emotionally focused therapy (EFT), which helps couples connect their pasts. 

Family therapy 

In some cases, a family might be unsure how to resolve challenges related to intergenerational trauma or other subjects. When family members struggle to communicate healthily, a therapist can act as a mediator to offer support. 

Humanistic therapy (HRT) 

Humanistic therapy takes a different approach to psychotherapy than some other modalities. This person-focused therapy modality emphasizes a person's wants, needs, and behaviors. Therapy sessions and treatment plans are designed around the person to help them achieve results in their personal lives. Some therapists use more than one therapy technique to get the best results for their clients. Therapy treatment plans reflect your therapist's concerns, recommendations, and goals for treatment.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most common and widely used therapeutic modalities, often considered the "gold standard" of talk therapy. This modality posits that thought patterns impact behaviors and emotions. Cognitive-behavioral therapists use psychotherapy tools to help clients eliminate unwanted behavioral patterns by changing their maladaptive thoughts. CBT therapists may also use worksheets, roleplay, and activities to support their clients. 

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
Are you trying to cope with past trauma and move forward?

Online therapy 

Online therapy through platforms like BetterHelp is a form of distance therapy that takes traditional in-office therapy sessions online. An online platform allows you to log in to your sessions from home. In addition, you may be able to choose between phone, video, or live chat sessions with your therapist. Without having to commute, it may be easier to receive support for some people who have lived through traumatic events. 

In addition to the benefits of online therapy, studies back up its effectiveness. One study found that online CBT and EMDR sessions were as effective as in-person options in treating PTSD. Clients with a trauma history saw a 55% average reduction in trauma symptoms after treatment. 


Living with the impacts of trauma can be challenging. However, you're not alone. Many therapeutic modalities have been developed to treat the impacts of trauma. Consider reaching out to a therapist online or in your area to discuss your unique options and how they may be able to support you.
Learn to heal from the impacts of trauma
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