Why Choosing a Trauma-informed Therapist Can Make All the Difference to Mental Health Treatment Outcomes

A trauma-informed therapist brings enormous value to the therapeutic process.

Trauma-informed therapists and counsellors can offer unique insights and approaches to enhance each client’s well-being and healing. 

According to psychologist Amy Marschall, trauma-informed treatment incorporates various therapeutic approaches and modalities, all of which are centred around your trauma and its impact on your mental health, behaviour and capacity to engage in treatment.

Even if you are not in treatment specifically for your trauma, this approach ensures your emotional safety in your sessions. (What Is Trauma-Informed Therapy? Verywell mind, Amy Marschall, PsyD, November 17, 2023.)

This article explores how choosing a trauma-informed therapist can make all the difference to mental health treatment outcomes and the many benefits of this type of therapy.

Trauma-informed treatment at Camino Recovery

Psychology, therapy and women, mental health and depression with counseling

If you or a loved one would like to do some trauma-healing work and want to learn more about the benefits of trauma-informed treatment, contact our friendly team at Camino Recovery, who can provide you with support and information.

We offer personalised, comprehensive, trauma-informed treatment programs focusing on each client’s needs and treatment goals.

Our clinical team utilises a variety of evidence-based approaches to trauma work.

Contact one of our trauma-informed therapists today for further information about our trauma-informed treatment program and begin your journey to lasting healing, resilience and transformation.

What is trauma?

You might have come across various descriptions of trauma, some of which you may relate to better than others.

Put simply, trauma is an emotional response caused by a traumatic or distressing experience or series of upsetting events.

Trauma, which some experts have described as an “emotional wound or injury”, can be triggered by a single event (such as a physical assault or mugging) or a series of adverse experiences such as child abuse, natural disasters, combat or domestic violence.

It’s essential that you understand the different types of trauma and how they can affect your emotions and behaviour so that you can seek the help and support you need to process and overcome these experiences.

What does trauma-informed mean?

Being trauma-informed means that your therapist approaches treatment with a deep understanding and sensitivity of the impact that your traumatic experiences may have on your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being.

Trauma-informed therapists are aware of the many personal and societal consequences, anticipating how trauma survivors may respond to their words and actions and doing their part to create a world that does not cause further harm.

Even more, being trauma-informed means helping to create a world that can foster growth, resiliency, and healing. (What Does it Mean to Be Trauma-Informed? Psychology Today, Katherine King, Psy.D., November 26, 2021.) 

Why choosing a trauma-informed therapist can make all the difference to mental health treatment outcomes

Trauma-informed therapy is not defined by specific interventions or treatments.

Instead, your therapist will tailor an approach suited to your trauma history, triggers, and specific needs.

This approach helps your therapist or counsellor to consider the impact of trauma on your emotions, regulation, and behaviour, including intergenerational effects. 

Trauma Treatment Program

Here are some reasons why choosing a trauma-informed therapist can make all the difference to mental health treatment outcomes (even if you don’t identify as having trauma):

1. Safety

Ensuring your physical and emotional safety during sessions is paramount and enables you and your therapist to build a safe and trusting alliance that promotes resilience and lasting recovery.

2. Collaboration

Trauma-informed professionals empower you by involving you in your care and educating you about available treatment options. 

Feeling seen, heard and validated in the therapeutic process is integral in sustaining a trusting, compassionate alliance between you and your therapist. 

Cultivating mutual collaboration is one of the ways to ensure this approach is sustainable during treatment and can positively influence recovery outcomes.

3. Transparency

Maintaining openness and honesty in communication is another vital principle in trauma-informed care. 

A comprehensive understanding of what to expect from your treatment plan, including progress and feedback can help you measure how far you have come, allowing you to stay on track with your recovery and treatment goals.

4. Competency

Trauma-informed professionals must remain educated on the latest research and best practices for trauma, with a heightened awareness of unique cultural considerations for each client. 

When your therapist is competent in all areas of trauma-informed care, they are better placed to help you on your recovery path, whatever that may look like, leading to enhanced care and recovery outcomes.

The bottom line?

Safety, trustworthiness, and collaboration are central aspects of trauma-informed treatment.

Trauma-informed care cultivates an approach sensitive to each client’s unique needs, including the history, culture and context in which you live and work.

Whatever your reasons for entering therapy, trauma-informed treatment can be profoundly beneficial as it does not cultivate a one-size-fits-all approach, which often doesn’t work, whether you have experienced trauma or not.

Instead, trauma-informed care acknowledges the need to understand your unique life experiences to deliver effective care. 

It can improve treatment adherence and client engagement and positively influence an individual’s recovery.

This sense of safety and trust can lead to better treatment outcomes as clients feel safe and grounded enough to explore and process past traumas and other challenges that may have brought them to therapy.

What are the different types of trauma?

You may be wondering whether you have experienced trauma and, if you have, what kind of support and treatments are available to you.

There are several different types of trauma that researchers have identified, each with its own set of symptoms, diagnostic criteria and treatments.

The most common types of trauma include acute, chronic and complex. 

Let’s explore these further.

Acute trauma

Acute trauma refers to a single incident that occurs in your life. 

These traumatic experiences usually have a beginning, middle, and end and can be profoundly frightening and unpleasant.

Acute trauma covers various traumatic events and experiences, including:

  • Being involved in a car accident 
  • Natural disaster
  • Witnessing violence 
  • Severe injury
  • Sexual assault

The impact that acute trauma can have on individuals can often be varied. 

For instance, some people may not have much of a traumatic response and can resume ordinary life despite what they have been through.

On the other hand, others may experience immediate adverse effects such as post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms that require them to seek professional treatment.

Stressed man sitting in armchair and crying

Chronic trauma

Chronic trauma occurs due to ongoing or prolonged abuse, usually in the context of a specific relationship, such as a caregiver, parent or spouse.

This type of trauma may persist for weeks, months or years and can develop due to the following:

  • Bullying
  • Domestic abuse or intimate partner violence
  • Prolonged exposure to war or combat
  • Prolonged child abuse
  • Witnessing abuse of a parent or caregiver

Studies show that victims of chronic trauma often have an overwhelming need to control their surroundings due to the powerlessness they experience or have experienced in the context of abusive relationships.

Through treatment, individuals with chronic trauma can explore and identify any maladaptive coping mechanisms that may have developed in response to the trauma they experienced.

Complex trauma

Complex trauma is ongoing (and is usually perpetrated by a parent or caregiver) and includes some form of betrayal.

For instance, an individual may experience complex trauma, sometimes called C-PTSD, due to childhood abuse, including sexual, physical and emotional abuse by a caregiver or trusted family friend.

Research has shown that complex trauma often has long-term interpersonal consequences that can profoundly affect an individual’s sense of self, well-being, and future relationships.

Individuals with complex trauma often have difficulty regulating their emotions and may experience profound feelings of guilt, shame and disconnection from the self and others.

Trauma symptoms

Each person experiences trauma symptoms differently. 

However, typically, symptoms of trauma can be physical and emotional. The emotional symptoms of trauma may include:

  • Anger
  • Reliving – flashbacks, hallucinations and nightmares of the event
  • Helplessness
  • Dissociation 
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Problems functioning in daily life
  • Social isolation 
  • Emotional numbness
  • Mood changes
  • Changes in behaviour, perspective, and worldview
  • Pervasive shame and guilt
  • Avoidance
  • Inability to focus or concentrate on tasks and activities 
  • Memory loss
Asian woman sit Depression Dark haired  pensive glance Standing by window and anxiety Copy space.

The physical symptoms of trauma can include:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Muscle tension
  • Increased heart rate
  • Nervousness or feeling on edge
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive arousal – increased alertness, fits of rage or anger, and severe irritability or agitation 
  • Changes in appetite

Suppose you are worried that you or a loved one has any of the trauma symptoms mentioned above. 

In that case, you must seek professional advice from a trauma specialist who can recommend specific treatments to help you manage your symptoms and reprocess any distressing memories so they no longer have such a negative impact on your life.

Trauma treatment options

Fortunately, various effective treatment options are available to those experiencing trauma.

The most effective trauma treatment program involves a holistic approach to recovery and can include the following:

How Camino Recovery can help

Camino Recovery provides personalised addiction and mental health treatment to clients in Spain and the United Kingdom. We provide specialised trauma-informed care for individuals looking to heal from trauma. 

This includes our pioneering trauma treatment, EMDR (eye movement desensitisation reprocessing), which helps to release trapped emotions and memories stored in the body and the nervous system, enabling the brain to process and metabolise the traumatic experience(s) successfully.

Our team works compassionately with clients, gently helping them to revisit traumatic memories and experience them in a new, more empowering way.

Among many things, EMDR helps individuals gain knowledge and insights into their traumatic experiences, allowing them to gain a new perspective that enables them to have more choice over their actions rather than feel powerless over their responses.

To learn more about our specialised trauma treatment programs, contact a specialist at Camino Recovery who can help.

We know how challenging it can be to take those initial steps to recovery. 

Still, once you begin experiencing the positive effects of treatment, you will become more confident and relaxed in your decision.

We are here and ready to guide you through your path to recovery and, ultimately, lasting wellness, empowerment and transformation.

Please speak to our friendly team today.

Additional resources

1. What Does it Mean to Be Trauma-Informed? Psychology Today, Katherine King, Psy.D., November 26, 2021

2. What Is Trauma-Informed Therapy? Verywell mind, Amy Marschall, PsyD, November 17, 2023

David Scourfield

David Scourfield is a Camino Recovery team member since 2017, focused on facilitating communication with Clinical and other professionals to ensure a comprehensive understanding of Camino's program.

Combining his marketing skills and lived experiences, he joined Camino in 2017, contributing to external publications and the Camino website. With a strong belief in solidarity during the recovery process, David helps clients build support networks by connecting them with others in recovery.

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