Trauma is an intense emotional response to a disturbing experience that impacts or threatens your mental health, physical body, or life. The response may initially lead to shock and denial, with long-term reactions such as flashbacks, unpredictable emotions, or physical symptoms such as headaches. If you have experienced a traumatic event, you are not alone. Online therapy, support groups, and other treatment programs are available to help you find constructive ways to manage the emotions associated with trauma. This article will explore how trauma can affect you, different therapy options, and how you can find treatment.
How Trauma Affects The Brain
The prefrontal cortex is associated with decision-making, planning, social behavior, and self-expression. Following a traumatic event, people with PTSD often show decreased prefrontal cortex functioning. In addition, they might develop increased function in the amygdala, which is related to processing threatening stimuli and fear-related behavior.
These changes may lead to a range of reactions. For example, suppose you remember your traumatic event, and your amygdala becomes overactive. In this case, your brain may become hypervigilant and on high alert to ensure you're safe from danger. This response is natural when someone has experienced trauma and is one example of the effects that might result from traumatic stress.
What Is Trauma Therapy?
Trauma-focused therapy is provided by a mental health professional who specializes in treating individuals who have experienced trauma. This therapy addresses the needs and symptoms common in those who deal with traumatic stress, which may impact your mood, sleep, or ability to cope healthily.
A trauma-informed therapist assists affected individuals in managing trauma resulting from a traumatic event. A traumatic event can include anything an individual perceives as a threat to their mental well-being, physical body, or life.
However, note that “trauma therapy” does not refer to one specific treatment type. Instead, therapists may use a range of treatments for various trauma-related conditions.
Many therapists will assess the individual patient to decide which type(s) of therapy may provide the most effective treatment.
When searching for a trauma-informed therapist, don't be afraid to ask what types of therapy they specialize in, how they will create your trauma-focused treatment plan, and what to expect from the course of treatment.
Trauma-Informed Therapy Can Help
If you've undergone a traumatic event or think you might have signs of traumatic stress, trauma-informed therapy may help you begin to process your experiences. Talking about your pain and exploring disturbing events in your past can help you address memories and live an empowering, fulfilled life.
There are many kinds of therapy, but trauma-focused treatment focuses on helping people who have experienced frightening events, psychological harm, and subsequent personality changes or physical symptoms.
With the help of a therapist who specializes in trauma, you can take steps to heal and move forward with your life. You might prefer to find a trauma therapist in your local area or seek the help of one online.
Internet-based treatment for PTSD and other trauma responses can effectively manage distress and related conditions like depression and anxiety.
Benefits And Goals Of Trauma-Informed Therapy
Trauma-informed professionals, including social workers, therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists, can help you work through symptoms of traumatic stress, such as:
Intrusive thoughts or memories (e.g., flashbacks, involuntary memories, or distressing dreams)
Avoidance coping (e.g., avoiding memories, places, or activities associated with the traumatic event)
Cognition and mood changes (e.g., ongoing fear, self-blame, guilt, shame, or feeling detached)
Arousal and reactivity changes (e.g., angry outbursts, irritability, or trouble concentrating)
Working with an informed therapist may help you become aware of your trauma symptoms, triggers, and reactions. You can also work with your therapist to identify a list of goals for your treatment, which can help you track your progress.
Here are examples of common goals in trauma-informed therapy:
To successfully accept the reality of the traumatic event that occurred in the past.
To eliminate or ease the symptoms of trauma.
To shift your focus from the past traumatic event to what's happening in the present.
To boost day-to-day functioning.
To understand potential intergenerational traumas.
To regain personal power and self-esteem.
To overcome addictions caused by traumatic stress.
To learn the skills needed to help prevent deterioration or relapse.
If your goals differ from those listed above, talk to your therapist about including them. Trauma-informed therapy is an individual experience, and you have the right to work toward any personal goals that you believe might help you heal. Whether you're working through flashbacks, guilt, fear, or another trauma response, trauma-oriented therapy aims to use psychotherapy methods to treat these responses and provide relief.
Online Therapy With BetterHelp
At BetterHelp, you can connect with a licensed online therapist who specializes in helping those who have experienced traumatic events. You can speak with a professional based on your needs and preferences and schedule flexible online sessions via phone, video, or in-app messaging. Since web-based therapy can take place anywhere you feel comfortable and have a reliable internet connection, you may feel more comfortable talking about what you’re facing using this method.
The Efficacy Of Online Therapy
Online therapy can be an effective tool for overcoming traumatic experiences. One study assessed the efficacy of internet-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy on youth belonging to underserved groups. Researchers found that the telehealth intervention “demonstrated clinically meaningful symptom change posttreatment,” including a caregiver-reported reduction in posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms. These findings effectively show the comparability of web-based treatments to in-person interventions for managing trauma-related symptoms and mental health disorders.
Below are reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people with similar experiences.
“Grant pulled me out of the worst depression I ever had. Having been a survivor of complex trauma, I thought I had the tools necessary to continue my resilience, but I didn’t. I look forward to our sessions, and I always feel accomplished after. Thank you Grant!”
“When I started therapy I explained to Jodie that there were specific practical steps that I needed to address, as well as unpicking of traumas. She has been skilled at allowing me to balance both, without feeling capsized by either one. She is positive and professional, caring and empowering. Highly recommend.”
A licensed trauma-informed therapist can help you determine suitable treatment methods for your trauma symptoms, and they will not ask you to pursue treatments that you're uncomfortable with. Instead, your therapist can provide support as you talk through your trauma, learn about yourself, and explore means of treatment that help you begin to move forward. If you’re dealing with shame related to your traumatic experiences, online therapy may provide a safe environment in which you can be more open and honest.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the best therapy for trauma?
Many different kinds of therapy treat trauma. One common modality is EMDR, which stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. This form of treatment is when a trauma therapist helps a client think of a painful memory and work through it using eye movements. There's also trauma-focused therapy where a therapist is a specialist in trauma and can help a client heal because of their expertise in trauma. Out of the many kinds of therapy that help people with trauma, EMDR is one of the most effective. It helps people process trauma by desensitizing them to their painful memories. If you experience real trauma and want to work on new coping strategies, you may want to find a therapist find a support group find someone who is experienced to work with trauma issues and offers focused treatments like EDMR. There are also other types of therapy that you may be able to benefit from, which could help you change your thoughts and behaviors.
What is trauma therapy?
There are different types of trauma therapy, and what works for each person will differ depending on who they are and the professional medical advice they're given. Some kinds of therapy are more frequently used for children, and there are some forms of therapy that focus on adults. Children exposed to trauma should see a trauma therapist as soon as possible. You can find a therapist by searching online or asking your doctor for advice. It is imperative that anyone get benefits of trauma focused therapy whenever they need it.
Trauma therapy that is specifically for adults would be something like EMDR, where a person works with a specialized therapist and talks about the trauma they've experienced so that they can heal from it, and eliminate their stress symptoms. The techniques used in trauma therapy for adults are different than those that would be used on children. Very young kids might go to play therapy, which provides focused treatments, whereas adults and teens might find more success in cognitive processing therapy, exposure therapy or prolonged exposure therapy, or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). These types of therapy are empirically supported, which means evidence has shown that they work for some. When it comes to therapy, CBT is the gold standard for concerns such as depression, anxiety management, and other mental health disorders, since it is designed to help you with your thoughts feelings and more. But it can be used for trauma and other issues as well, namely on those that are combat veterans, have an eating disorder, or others who need help treating trauma. In contrast, couples therapy can be helpful if you're a person that wants to understand your partner's trauma. It all depends on the individuals that the trauma effects, what their goals are in therapy, and what they find most helpful as a unique person. Keep in mind that you can also seek out a support group find individuals that are going through the same thing as you, in regards to life experiences and trauma experience, or look at evidence based research, so you’ll have a better chance at lessening trauma symptoms.
What trauma does to the brain?
Trauma literally changes the brain and the way that the neural pathways are. In people with posttraumatic stress disorder, you'll see that on brain scans, their brains are lit up at times because they're hypervigilant, overly aware, and are possibly in a fight, flight, or freeze mode because they believe there's a threat. Fundamentally, trauma changes the brain to think that there's a constant threat. These intrusive symptoms are caused by real trauma that a person has faced. If you have suffered from real trauma in your life, you should think about finding a therapist that has the training and experience to offer you the trauma focused therapy you might need. For instance, a trauma therapist has specialized training, which allows for them to provide treatment post trauma.
Does emotional trauma change the brain?
Emotional trauma changes your brain. It's unfortunate because people who have a traumatic history often struggle with the fact that their mind doesn't function as it did before the trauma. It can be upsetting for people that have these concerns. Trauma disrupts lives and changes the way that people think and operate in the world. Trauma may cause negative thoughts, or even lead to mental illness if left unaddressed. But that doesn't mean the person is permanently damaged. With the right therapy, and possibly medication, people who live through trauma can heal and get back to the activities they love to do in life. Do something for yourself, and find a trauma therapist that will be able to provide trauma specific treatment for you, if you feel that you would be able to benefit from good therapy that is trauma focused. There are many benefits of trauma therapy, so think about that when you are trying to find a treatment center find a support group or find a therapist.
What are the symptoms of trauma?
The symptoms of trauma vary from person to person. Often, people with trauma or PTSD symptoms will experience panic attacks, nightmares, insomnia, depression, and fits of anger or rage. These symptoms can be disruptive and potentially impact a person's quality of life. If that's the case, it's crucial to reach out to mental health professionals for help. There are also different types of trauma when it comes to trauma psychology, such as dissociation trauma, where you do your best to ignore the trauma. Whichever type of real trauma you are experiencing, there is help out there for you. You can contact a center find a trauma therapist, and perhaps start getting the trauma focused specific interventions that are needed in your life.
What are the three types of trauma?
The three types of trauma are acute, chronic, and complex. Acute stress disorder is a type of trauma that occurs from one single incident. Chronic trauma is from long term, repeated abuse or domestic violence. It is something that occurs over a long period of time. Lastly, complex trauma occurs when a person is exposed to many different traumatic events, which are typically very intense and of an interpersonal nature. Each of these types is real trauma, so none of them should be downplayed. If you have experienced any type of trauma, you should seek treatment options from a your healthcare provider. They can help you work on your thoughts, feelings, or actions through trauma processing, or another empirically supported method.
What does a trauma therapist do and what are they called?
It is important to find a therapist who has experience in helping people with severe traumatic histories work through their painful memories and helps them heal from those traumatic incidents. Trauma therapists and trauma counselors are compassionate, empathetic, and understand that real trauma takes time to heal from. They're patient with their clients and help them as much as they can. For treatment of PTSD, therapy can be life-changing, and results in good therapy through the use of various trauma treatments. Having experience working with trauma therapists will teach you coping skills and provide other tools to help you cope with how you are feeling related to the trauma.
What classifies as a trauma?
Real trauma can vary in nature from surviving a natural disaster to dealing with a history of physical abuse to witnessing mass violence to experiencing a sexual assault. It depends on what you classify as trauma for yourself. If you were in an abusive relationship, it might have been a very traumatic experience for you. The experience of trauma varies from person to person, and traumatic events can affect different people in a variety of ways. Some people are incredibly resilient and bounce back from trauma, while others take more time to heal. Every person responds to trauma differently, but it's imperative to seek mental health treatment after experiencing a traumatic experience. That way, you can get the support you need. Trauma treatments are often personalized to your trauma experience, so each person will be able to get the trauma focused therapy or a trauma therapist that can help them. Let your therapist find a treatment for your trauma symptoms and all the other side effects you are experiencing.
What does trauma do to a person?
Real trauma can completely change a person. They may have never experienced abuse or a traumatic incident before, and as a result, they experience symptoms and sensations that they've never dealt with previously. They may begin to suffer from panic, depression, an eating disorder, self harm, have difficulty trusting or forming bonds with others, and so on. Working with trauma can be extremely dangerous, and it can change you entirely as an individual, but forms of treatment such as EMDR, exposure therapy, prolonged exposure therapy, or trauma-informed therapy can help. These methods have been tested, and in some cases researched by a specific department of psychiatry, and other professional sources who work with trauma and study it as well. A medical entity sometimes tests therapy techniques, to determine if they are effective.
Working with trauma therapists can help people who have survived trauma live better and develop healthier lives. Real trauma and PTSD are hard to live with, but breaking free is possible. Trauma therapists are trained to listen in a non-judgmental way and give you a safe place to work through things. You can find a therapist find a treatment center find the treatment that works well for you.
What are some healthy coping skills for dealing with being exposed to trauma?
One highly effective coping skill regarding trauma psychology is deep breathing as a form of self care. This simple and easy skill can be done anywhere. For this exercise, you can inhale for four seconds, hold for two more seconds, and finally exhale in six to eight counts. This exercise activates the part of the nervous system that helps calm your body during stressful situations. Using a weighted blanket and even laughing can help. But in order to help solve the deeper effects of your trauma, you should find a therapist and even find a support group as you work through real trauma.
What is the best therapy for trauma?
When it comes to treating trauma, you need to find a trauma informed therapist who is equipped and educated to help you start the healing process and give you a medical advice diagnosis. Be diligent and fact check from only high quality sources and board certified physicians before committing to a therapist or a treatment center, or find other resources related to therapy trauma.
Common trauma informed therapies used to help treat PTSD and trauma include pharmacotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, bilateral stimulation, and hypnotherapy. Make sure you find a therapist that can help you determine which treatment is best for you. Some people also try to find a support group to supplement their treatment. When you work with a trauma therapist, it may be best to let the therapist find a treatment that can help improve your life.
Medical reviewers confirm through the latest evidence based research, like these peer reviewed studies from the National Center For Biotechnology Information, that trauma therapy is the most effective form of treatment for PTSD.
How can therapy take on a trauma informed approach?
Treating real trauma requires therapists to recognize and understand how trauma can affect a person, especially in terms of mental illness. In order to successfully use a trauma informed approach to treat patients, healthcare professionals must be able to identify different paths of recovery for patients, learn how to recognize the mental health symptoms of trauma, and actively resist re-traumatization. It helps if they are trauma informed, have trauma experience, or work with trauma affected persons regularly.
What is trauma focused therapy for adults?
Trauma therapy for adults involves any treatment plans designed to help adults cope with the negative effects of going through a traumatic event or their trauma memory. Trauma-focused cognitive behavior therapy, in particular, is a common treatment used for patients who are struggling to reframe their negative thought patterns.
How do you fight trauma related issues?
First, you need to give yourself time to heal from real trauma. It can often take weeks and even months to accept what has happened to you, whether it is a sudden illness or an accident. During this time, you should avoid bottling up your feelings. Doing this can end up making you feel worse and prevent you from coming to terms with the trauma. You should also avoid attempting to self-medicate yourself with alcohol and drugs. Instead, starting a routine and accepting the support of your loved ones will help you fight through these issues. You can also find a trauma center that can help you with mental health resources and a strategy that works to improve your well being. These things can be done under the supervision of a doctor.
How do you deal with trauma without therapy?
Dealing with real trauma without a trauma specialist can be difficult. Working with a therapist for therapy trauma allows you to learn and practice different coping skills while decreasing negative stress symptoms. If you aren’t able to work with a therapist at the moment, it is important that you have a solid network of friends and family who can help support you through this hard time.
What are the benefits of trauma focused therapy?
Therapy can help by providing you with a number of benefits. For instance, it can help you learn more about trauma and its effect on the body and behavior patterns, identify triggers, and practice healthy coping skills for feelings related behaviors. That’s why you should find a therapist who is experienced in treating patients with trauma. When you find a therapist find a treatment center find a support system, and do your best to get all of the help and support that you need to rebuild your self esteem.
Can people develop eating disorders from child trauma?
Depression, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, and other issues can develop as a result of experiencing child trauma. Adolescents are also susceptible to a combination of thought patterns based on the places they have been, an account they have been given of what their childhood was like, what they read in an article, and a combination of other things that lead to a reduction in their wellness.
How do you treat child trauma and its results like depression, eating disorders, and bipolar disorder?
In order to treat child trauma, it is critical that you seek professional treatment for help. They will help you cope with these issues and learn effective techniques for dealing with them. Acknowledging these issues can be difficult, but it is important that you find help for them to treat them and prevent them from growing worse. Research evidence shows that childhood trauma, if left untreated, can cause a multitude of mental health conditions throughout early and mid-adulthood.