What Is Trauma Therapy?

By Sarah Fader |Updated May 27, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Melinda Santa, LCSW

Getting Help For Trauma: Trauma Therapy

It's essential to find a trauma related treatment center that can help you after you've experienced at least one trauma. You need to talk about your pain and start to process what happened to you. This may sound scary, but think of it as an empowering statement. You truly have the ability to process past events, address memories, and live an empowering, fulfilled life. One of the best ways to do this processing is to find a therapist who is skilled at helping people who have been through trauma. There are many kinds of therapy, but trauma focused therapy is explicitly focused on helping people who have had unfortunate things happen to them. Remember you didn't bring upon psychological harm, any mental health disorders, personality changes or anything else upon yourself. But you can take steps to heal from a traumatic experience with the support of a trauma therapist who can help you identify unhealthy behavior patterns. You can either find a treatment center and trauma therapist in your local area or seek the help of an online trauma therapist.

What Is Trauma Therapy?

It is important that you find a psychiatrist and trauma focused treatments that can address your needs and different conditions. Treating trauma and be difficult, especially when it impacts things such as mood, sleep, or pushes you towards substance abuse as a coping mechanism. One treatment of trauma includes trauma focused therapy. This is a type of mental health treatment adopted by a trauma-informed therapist to assist affected individuals to deal with their traumatic condition. What is a traumatic event? It basically refers to an event perceived by an individual as a threat to sanity, the integrity of the body, and life. Trauma and traumatic events are two different things. Learn more information about the difference between the two is incredibly important, and studies have been done to understand the risk associated with experiencing trauma in addition to the study of traumatic events.

It's pertinent to know that trauma-focused therapy can't be regarded as a specific treatment type-- for example, each person experiences trauma related beliefs differently. There are different therapy types. Sometimes, a therapist may decide to use a type alone or combine different types purposely for effective treatment of psychological trauma. For example, if the therapist specializes in childhood trauma, they may preform a child trauma assessment to understand the best course of treatment. As a therapist, it's always essential to know the best treatment therapy type that can potentially handle a patient's traumatic condition.

What Are The Benefits And Goals Of Trauma Informed Therapy?

There is always a need to prepare your mind that trauma therapy is beneficial, even before you begin your therapy sessions. Learning more information about these services and what counseling entails before stepping into an office can help preserve relationships with trauma counselors.

It is important to be aware of your trauma, what your triggers are, and in what way do your react. It is also important to know what your goal in therapy will be? Is it to tell your story? To create awareness? To be at peace? To confront your abuser, or some other reason not listed?

The following are some of the basic goals of trauma therapy:

  • To successfully handle the reality of the traumatic event that occurred in the past ( it prevents it from getting a hold on you).
  • To eliminate or ameliorate the symptoms of trauma
  • To change the focus of the past event to the present
  • To boost day to day functioning
  • Getting people to know about hereditary trauma
  • Helping individuals regain their "personal power"
  • Helping individuals getting over addictions caused by traumatic stress
  • To equip individuals with skills to help prevent deterioration or relapse

There is nothing bad about developing feasible goals for yourself with respect to what you've experienced over time-- whether working through flashbacks, post-traumatic stress disorder, guilt, difficult emotions, fear, or another trauma response, trauma therapy aims to use psychotherapy to effectively treat these responses and help make sense of the information given.

Online Therapy

Your therapist will work with you to determine the method that works best for you - your therapist will never do anything that you're uncomfortable with. When it comes to online therapy, both research and personal stories show us that online therapy can play a powerful role in helping people heal from trauma. 

BetterHelp Wants You To Process Your Trauma And Heal

The online counselors at BetterHelp care about what you've been through in your life. They want to help you process your trauma and begin to heal. There is no timeline on mental health. Your online counselor will be patient with your healing process. They want to support you as you talk through your trauma, learn about yourself, accept what happened to you, and begin to move forward with their help. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors.

Counselor Reviews

"Natalie has efficiently and effectively helped me through some pretty tough times. She is very patient, sweet, understanding, and knowledgeable and I would definitely recommend her to anyone on BetterHelp. I also really liked that her appointment schedule was very flexible for those of us who work long days."

How To Get Started

If you or a loved one is dealing with trauma and PTSD, it's crucial to find a therapist and start a trauma treatment process as soon as possible. Because the symptoms of traumatic stress can lead to secondary problems, the sooner you find a psychiatrist who has experience working with trauma and PTSD, the fewer challenges you'll have to overcome. Make a commitment to finding a trauma therapist you can work with and stick with your trauma focused therapy as long as it's needed. You can get through this, and you don't have to do it alone.

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. Family therapy may be a good option for traumatic events or symptoms that affect more than one family member. 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 members 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. 

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. 

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