Trauma is the result of a life-changing, emotionally devastating experience that significantly alters our sense of normalcy. It may cause us to change the way we live our lives and make us question the world around us.
Trauma often manifests in heightened anxiety levels and feelings of isolation if others can’t understand what we have been through. In some cases it can even catch us off-guard if its effects suddenly surface years after the traumatic experience(s).
The list of what might constitute a traumatic incident is extensive but examples include such situations as:
- experiencing or witnessing interpersonal violence
- being the victim of bullying, hate crimes, homophobia or racism
- can also occur after being diagnosed with a serious or potentially life-threatening medical condition, such as getting Covid-19 or cancer, or after the sudden death of a loved one
- may result after being involved in combat or a terrorist attack, experiencing or witnessing sexual assault or abuse, or surviving natural disasters like earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes.
Any unexpected, overwhelming event can leave you feeling traumatized, shocked, and confused. You may feel like your world has tilted on its axis, but there are some things that might help.
What Are The Treatment Options For Trauma?
Trauma and the subsequent recovery process is unique to each person. The treatment that works for one person may not help another at all, because everyone has different responses during their recovery.
If you are seeking treatment for trauma, it is important to look specifically for therapists who specialize in this area. This specialist should do a comprehensive intake assessment at your first appointment, so they can create a treatment plan that is specifically tailored to your goals and needs.
As part of this plan, the specialist should advise you of the individual trauma-informed therapy they feel will best help you. This could include a combination of:
- EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy) – EMDR is a powerful therapeutic technique that helps people process trauma on an emotional level. It has been shown to help sufferers of PTSD heal faster than through traditional therapy, often in as few as six to twelve sessions. EMDR uses bilateral (both sides of the body) stimuli to tap into the biological mechanisms the brain uses during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. The theory is that using REM while recalling the disturbing thoughts or memories of the trauma helps the brain process it naturally, allowing the mind to heal.
- CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) – Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) teaches you to become aware of your beliefs and thoughts about the situation. Once you identify them, it gives you the skills to see whether there are facts to support those thoughts and how to let them go if there aren’t.
- CPT (Cognitive Processing Therapy) – Cognitive processing therapy (CPT) is an effective form of cognitive behavioral therapy that has been proven to help reduce symptoms in people who experience trauma.
- CBP (Component Based Psychotherapy) – CBP is an innovative, evidence-based approach to treatment that was developed for adult survivors of complex interpersonal trauma. It works especially well with those who have experienced childhood emotional abuse or neglect
- DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) informed individual and group therapy – DBT is a modified version of cognitive behavioral therapy. It focuses on living in the moment and teaches positive coping strategies along with healthy ways to regulate emotions.
- Psychodynamic therapy – Psychodynamic psychotherapy is a form of “talk therapy” that helps patients find relief from emotional pain. It attributes psychological problems to the subconscious motives and conflicts in one’s life, which can be due to past experiences or unresolved issues from childhood.
- Medications may be used in conjunction with therapy, in some cases. Medication is safe and effective when used properly and may be recommended as an option, depending on severity of symptoms, other medical conditions, and other individual circumstances.
In some situations, couples therapy or group therapy can be a helpful addition to these therapies.
When To Seek Professional Therapy For Trauma
When people experience a psychological trauma, it often shakes them to their core. They may feel hopeless, helpless, and deeply unsafe. Trauma can take a long time to recover from, but recovery is possible.
Trauma symptoms can:
- Make it difficult to have a close, fulfilling relationship
- Create problems at home or at work
- Cause you to avoid situations, places or people, and other reminders of the traumatic experience
- Leave you feeling “disconnected” from others or numb
- Cause you to turn to substance abuse as an escape method
- Begin or increase flashbacks, nightmares, or terrifying memories
- Cause you to suffer from severe fear and anxiety that doesn’t seem linked to anything in particular (i.e., constant low-grade stress)
- Create negative thinking or cause you to blame yourself for what happened
If months (or years) have gone by and you are unable to shake your symptoms or they are dramatically affecting your day-to-day life, it is time to seek professional help.
Working through trauma can be a difficult and potentially re-traumatizing process. The best way to heal from these experiences is by working with an experienced trauma therapist.
It is important you feel safe, respected and understood when seeking therapy for trauma. If you don’t feel like you can trust your therapist, look for another who will work better for your specific situation.
Let Us Help
Trauma can be difficult to understand and even more so, to handle on your own. Whether your challenges are recent or from years ago, the professionals at The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida can help. For more information, contact us or call us today at 561-496-1094.