Trauma can profoundly impact many aspects of your life, but healing is possible.
Fortunately, many trauma treatment interventions can guide you toward long-term recovery.
Essentially, no matter how challenging the situation might be, your trauma does not have to define your future.
A traumatic event
Traumatic events can leave us feeling vulnerable and unsafe in a once stable and predictable world.
No matter the traumatic experience, complex events can leave a profound imprint on the mind and body.
The effects of trauma may show up immediately after traumatic events occur, or the impact of a traumatic experience could take years to unfold.
Effects of trauma
The impact of trauma can profoundly harm your mental health, relationships, and sense of self.
Luckily, several effective treatments can help you heal from your trauma, allowing you to move beyond the difficult circumstances that may leave you feeling ‘stuck’ in the past.
Studies show that around 70% of adult US citizens have experienced at least one traumatic event.
However, not everyone that experiences trauma will have long-lasting effects.
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Research shows that around 6% of adults in America develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to their trauma.
For people with symptoms of PTSD, engaging in some form of trauma therapy can be incredibly useful.
Such interventions may help people manage their symptoms and process their trauma under the guidance of a licensed therapist.
Nervous system dysregulation
You may find that the trauma symptoms you experience affect you on many different levels.
For example, you may experience physical trauma symptoms such as shaking, trembling, or anxiety.
On the other hand, you may engage (unwittingly) in avoidance behaviours, experience upsetting flashbacks about the incident or have bouts of extreme rage or anger.
Changes in the brain and nervous system
Trauma can drastically alter your brain and nervous system, where such changes lead to dysregulation and may cause symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Targeted trauma treatments seek to soothe the nervous system, bringing it back into regulation where symptoms are not so pervasive and challenging.
Calming the nervous system
Primarily, trauma therapies focus on calming your nervous system while integrating traumatic memories, thus, cultivating traumatic growth and supporting mind and body healing.
There is no ‘one – size – fits – all’ approach.
There are no absolutes to trauma therapy, and trauma experts state that the best type of therapy is the one that works best for you.
It may also take some time to find the right trauma treatment solution for you, but there is always help and support available.
The importance of trauma therapy and how it can help
Traumatic experiences can be significantly diverse.
For instance, you may experience traumatic symptoms after a single event, such as a physical injury or assault, or chronic events, like getting bullied or childhood abuse and neglect.
Childhood experiences that impact your adult life can result in you developing complex trauma, where symptoms arise from repeated exposure to traumatic events in your past.
Integrating your experiences
Trauma therapies seek to help you integrate your experiences, thus allowing you to understand them, cultivating the healing process.
Essentially, trauma-focused interventions do not take away your memories of trauma, but they won’t have as much power over you and your life in time.
Normalising your response to trauma
Trauma therapy aims to normalise your responses to the trauma you have experienced.
Trauma experts say that trauma therapy can provide survivors with the proper education and tools so that they may develop new skills and coping mechanisms to manage their feelings and emotions.
Additionally, evidence-based practices for PTSD and trauma have shown to be the most effective throughout the population.
Types of trauma therapy
Several types of trauma therapy can help you manage your symptoms and deal with your past.
Prolonged Exposure Therapy
Prolonged exposure therapy or PE is one of the most effective treatments for tackling trauma.
As the name suggests, PE exposes you to whatever you fear, which involves confronting the source of your phobia to alleviate the anxiety surrounding it.
One of the most pervasive symptoms of PTSD is avoidance behaviours, where a person avoids anything that may remind them of a traumatic event or incident.
However, avoidance only worsens the problem as it can lead to disconnection and other self-destructive behaviours, such as substance abuse.
Throughout your therapy sessions, you will learn to:
- Talk about your trauma
- Control your breathing
- Gently face your fears
Facing your fears
Facing your fears may involve a range of different strategies.
For example, you may go back to where you were assaulted or visit your childhood home.
Experts say the most critical component of trauma treatment is exposing the person to the thoughts, feelings, places, memories and images related to their trauma to guide them through desensitisation.
The more you avoid people, places, thoughts and sensations, the worse trauma symptoms become.
Cognitive Processing Therapy
Cognitive processing therapy (CPT) helps people who feel ‘stuck’ by trauma-related thoughts and feelings.
In 2018, a study revealed that ”CPT is a profoundly effective trauma treatment with long-term benefits across various outcomes.”
During sessions, your therapist will help you address and challenge any destructive and unhelpful beliefs about your trauma that might be keeping you ‘stuck’.
Cognitive processing therapy aims to help modify any negative thoughts, beliefs, and ideas related to your traumatic experiences, eventually allowing you to view these events positively.
EMDR – eye movement desensitisation reprocessing
Developed by Francine Shapiro in 1987, EMDR therapy is one of the most pioneering trauma therapies today.
Unlike other traditional therapies, EMDR doesn’t involve much talking – instead, it includes processing and releasing traumatic memories through guided eye movements.
Bilateral eye movements
During an EMDR session, your therapist will ask you to focus on an object or hand that moves back and forth while holding a specific aspect of traumatic memory in your mind.
These bilateral eye movements (side to side movements) allow your brain to ‘reprocess’ the memory or event, which wasn’t able to get fully processed at the time due to profound or overwhelming stress.
Releasing difficult memories
By engaging both sides of your brain, the reprocessing helps release the memories, thus alleviating your trauma symptoms, such as flashbacks, nightmares, and triggers.
Studies conducted in 2014 by Francine Shapiro found that 80 – 90% of people saw positive results after only three EMDR sessions.
Another study found that EMDR therapy was more effective in treating trauma than cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
Research also shows that some people may experience quicker results from EMDR therapy than from other forms of intervention, such as talk therapy.
Moreover, EMDR may be more beneficial to those with single-event traumas than to people with complex trauma.
Trauma – focused CBT
Trauma-focused CBT is an effective therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder.
This form of therapy is a cognitive behavioural treatment mainly used to treat trauma in young children and teenagers.
Identifying unhelpful thoughts and beliefs
Like cognitive behavioural therapy, trauma-focused CBT aims to help children identify maladjusted thoughts and beliefs about a traumatic experience, i.e. incorrectly blaming themselves for what happened.
The above helps resolve and correct any unhealthy behaviour patterns and identify new coping methods, such as discussing feelings openly and learning how to self-soothe.
Psychodynamic therapy helps you understand your past and how it might impact your current behaviours, thoughts and feelings, and relationship patterns.
Such therapy involves exploring your unconscious motives that might be driving your behaviour.
Understanding your past
During sessions, your therapist will help you understand more about yourself, your early childhood experiences and present relationships.
Inherently, your associations with others could get shaped by your trauma and affect your mental health, coping mechanisms, and ideas about the world.
Essentially, our worlds get shaped by our experiences – if trauma is a prevalent factor in your life, it can affect how you view the world and those around you.
Studies conducted in 2008 illustrated that psychodynamic intervention in trauma therapy and particularly for people who have post-traumatic stress disorder, could lead to:
- Improved relationships
- Positive social functioning
- Higher self-esteem
- Using more helpful coping mechanisms, and less unhelpful coping strategies
Another crucial aspect of psychodynamic therapy is its valuable role in treating complex trauma.
Other therapies can help treat trauma; these include:
- Somatic therapies: involve releasing stored trauma to alleviate mental health symptoms and physical pain, using strategies such as grounding and body awareness.
- Hypnotherapy: is a popular alternative for those who have tried other therapies with no results.
- Art and music therapy involve dance, drama, writing, music and creative art.
- Narrative therapy: is a recently developed therapy in which a therapist helps you to ”re-author” your story to shape how you view your experiences and give new meaning to your past and the world around you.
There are many trauma treatments available for those seeking help.
At Camino Recovery, we specialise in treating all forms of emotional trauma by using a wide range of therapies and modalities.
Our clinicians come from diverse backgrounds and experiences and are experts in treating addiction, depression, anxiety and trauma.
We believe in addressing the root cause of your issues and improving the quality of peoples’ lives.
Trauma doesn’t have to be a way of life – there is always help and support available.
Speak to a specialist today to find out more