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.
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
- Witnessing violence
- Natural disasters
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
What do people need to heal after trauma?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, healthy ways of coping can help reduce stress and improve well-being after a trauma. These may include avoiding drugs and alcohol, spending time with supportive friends and relatives, and maintaining routines for exercise, meals, and sleep. Practice self care or start an exercise routine to help reduce stress, set realistic goals, and seek professional help from a qualified mental health professional.
How do you truly heal from trauma?
Everyone heals from trauma differently. It will affect one person's life much differently than it would someone else's, and there may be many paths to healing. Exercise can help improve symptoms and release endorphins, which can improve mood. Any physical activity, from walking to running to hiking to dancing, can be beneficial. Self-care and mindful meditation can also help reduce stress, which can help you along your healing journey.
It can also be helpful to acknowledge your feelings. Journaling can be a great way to get in touch with your emotions and process them as you move forward through traumatic events. Feeling and accepting your emotions can be an essential part of healing. Doing something creative, like drawing, writing, or painting, can help you identify and work through your emotions.
As you work through the healing process, avoid drugs and alcohol, as they can alter how your brain thinks and feels, which may hinder your progress. Recovering from trauma can be exhausting, so be kind to yourself and take breaks when you need them to recover your energy.
Accepting support can also be important. Whether you reach out to a loved one, a support group, or a professional mental health specialist, having a support system and being able to ask for help can encourage you to move forward in your healing.
What is the hardest part of healing from trauma?
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, trauma can affect anyone. Everyone’s journey is different, so there is no universal aspect of healing from trauma that is the hardest. Some of the ways that people deal with trauma that may be challenging to overcome include coping with intense emotions like anger, shame, fear, or sadness; overcoming numbness and the feeling of being detached from your thoughts, memories, and behaviors; dealing with sleep disturbances and hyperarousal; and coping with cognitive symptoms and thought process changes.
Does healing from trauma make you stronger?
It sounds cliche, but healing from trauma can make you stronger, likely from what you go through as you recover. People generally adapt well to life-changing situations over time; this can be called resilience. According to the American Psychiatric Association, healing from trauma may help you realize that, while the experience was painful, it does not have to determine the outcome of your life. Practicing resilience takes time, but increasing your resiliency can help improve your ability to weather future challenges.
Can you heal from trauma without therapy?
You can do many things to try to heal from trauma. Exercise can be beneficial as it can alleviate stress. Physical activity can also release endorphins, which can help improve your mood. Practicing self-care and mindfulness can help reduce stress and support healing.
Acknowledging how you feel can help you heal, and activities like journaling, writing, drawing, or playing music can help you identify and work through your emotions.
If you try these and other ways of healing from trauma and still have symptoms you need help working through, therapy can offer you the support you need to heal. Online therapy can be a good option for people who are hesitant to meet with a therapist face-to-face.
Can trauma heal on its own?
Trauma may not go away on its own. Avoiding dealing with a traumatic experience may lead to significant mental and physical health issues. The challenges that result from trauma that is not dealt with may make recovery harder in the long run.
What happens when you don't deal with trauma?
If you don’t deal with trauma, it will likely continue affecting you in many ways. You may experience difficulty sleeping, flashbacks, nightmares, mood swings, or depression. Physical symptoms may appear, too, like headaches or body pains. People with unresolved trauma may have difficulty making decisions or concentrating and may turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms like substance use to cope.
How do you overcome trauma from abuse?
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, there are many things you can do to attempt to overcome trauma from abuse. The first is recognizing how trauma can affect you, including panic attacks, anxiety, flashbacks, eating disorders, experiencing self-hate, and low self-esteem.
Embracing positive affirmations can help you quiet your inner critic. Refocus your inner voice on positives to disrupt negative thoughts. Try telling yourself, “I am worthy” or “I am beautiful.”
Exercises like kickboxing, yoga, dancing, or running can help release tension caused by rage, hurt, and grief. Practice mindfulness and try to tap into your creativity by writing, drawing, painting, or making music which can help release the trauma and the negative thoughts associated with it.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Talk to a trusted friend or family member, join a group, or connect with a mental health professional online for one-on-one support.
How do you overcome unhealed trauma?
An excellent way to deal with unhealed trauma is to deal with it head-on. Depending on how the trauma affects you, you may be able to process it by doing many of the things mentioned previously, like exercising, self-care, or exploring your emotions through art or music. That said, unhealed trauma may be difficult to cope with alone. Working with a qualified therapist with experience with a trauma informed approach to treatment can help you deal with trauma from your past that you have yet to face.
Why is it important to overcome trauma?
Experiencing trauma may have many negative effects and prevent you from living your best life. If you don’t work through past trauma, it can lead to panic attacks, anxiety, flashbacks, and low self-esteem. People deal with trauma in many ways, including crying often, having nightmares, experiencing difficulty sleeping, worrying, isolating themselves from family and friends, and feeling anxious, sad, or fearful. You may experience physical symptoms, too, like headaches, digestive issues, sweating, racing heart rate, or being easily startled. These things may not disappear if you don’t work through your trauma.
- Previous Article
- Next Article