Medically Reviewed by Dr. Mohammed Saeed, MD.
Trauma is a common problem in today’s world. Experts say that more than half of adults have been through some sort of traumatic event in their lives. Trauma can arise from a single, intense event (assault, serious injury or accident, sexual violence, crime, disaster, war, etc.), or repeated or prolonged exposure to stressful events (e.g. ongoing domestic violence, homelessness, chronic abuse, childhood neglect, bullying). Basically, trauma is any event or experience (big or small) that causes emotional or psychological harm.
According to mental health professionals, trauma is a risk factor in almost every mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder.
Everyone responds differently to traumatic situations. Trauma can cause physiological, neurological, and emotional impacts — some short term and others longer lasting. Not all trauma survivors experience long-term consequences, but many do. The traumatic experience can profoundly alter someone’s life.
Trauma Therapy Techniques and Modalities
Healing trauma is different for everyone, so no single therapy works for all. Various therapies may be explored before the best solution is found. Trauma therapies focus on calming the nervous system, integrating traumatic memories, and healing the body and mind. Processing trauma during therapy helps the patient understand why they are reacting as if they are in danger, and to learn how to change those seemingly instinctive reactions.
Some of the more common therapies include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT helps the patient understand and change their responses to better manage the emotions caused by trauma, anxiety, and stress. It teaches coping skills. Trauma-focused CBT (TF-CBT) is used for children and teens with trauma. It helps children recognize false beliefs (such as who to blame), correct unhealthy behavior patterns, and develop new coping skills. Parents or caregivers are usually involved.
- Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT). CPT investigates the patient’s perspective about why the traumatic event occurred, and the thoughts and beliefs developed since the event. CPT can also help change unhelpful thoughts into more positive ones. The goal is to help patients understand and think differently about the event, decreasing the negative effects.
- Prolonged Exposure (PE) Therapy. PE therapy involves exposing the patient to the source of their fears until they are not afraid of it anymore. Exposure is gradual so the patient can face it in a safe and controlled manner, learning that the outcome they most fear is not likely to happen. The patient may be asked to imagine the trauma and describe it out loud, confronting painful emotions and memories of the event. The therapist may ask for a written descriptive account of the traumatic event. In vivo exposure occurs in real-life situations, helping the patient approach day-to-day situations that they may be avoiding because of the associated trauma. PE reduces anxiety and depression symptoms in trauma survivors.
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR is a treatment that uses eye movements and auditory processing to reduce trauma. The patient performs a series of eye movements or listens to sounds while recalling or recounting a traumatic event. These physical actions help the brain reprocess memories of the traumatic event correctly. Studies show that EMDR is highly effective.
- Psychodynamic Therapy. Psychodynamic therapy identifies the stage in the traumatic response where the person is “stuck”. Once found, they can move past it and allow their brain to properly process the traumatic event. The therapist helps patients understand how the past affects current emotions, behaviors, and relationship patterns, along with the unconscious factors that influence their behavior.
- Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (SP) and Somatic Experiencing (SE). SP and SE make the patient aware of how the body reacts to stress, trauma experiences, and memories. Understanding these reactions and learning how to calm them is key to managing stress.
- Group Therapy. Therapy groups specifically for trauma survivors can be helpful. The peer support groups provide a safe place to share a trauma story with others who have experienced similar events.
- Hypnotherapy. Hypnosis may help address the emotions the patient faces because of the trauma. When in a hypnotic state, patients can sometimes address feelings and emotions that they cannot access when fully aware.
Art and Music Therapy, Inner Child Work, or other modes of therapy may also be suggested.
- Pharmacotherapy. Pharmacotherapy uses medication to calm trauma reactions, making them manageable. It generally works hand-in-hand with other therapies to ease intense emotions so the other therapies can be more effective.
Yoga and meditation are recommended as add-ons to therapy and medication. Yoga trains one to regulate breathing and increases awareness of the body and its responses. Meditation helps redirect attention to the present moment, providing a level of control over intrusive emotions.
Trauma therapy can help heal the body, mind, and spirit, but it takes time. Trauma therapy cannot remove traumatic memories, but it does teach healthy ways to manage the resulting emotions and reduce the anxiety or depression often felt after a traumatic event. Memories of the trauma will remain, but they will have less power.
Why Choose Into Action Recovery Centers
Into Action Recovery Centers takes pride in providing a high level of treatment and a holistic approach to recovery for those who suffer from addiction. Our comfortable facility is designed with the client’s needs foremost in mind. Our staff includes master’s level counselors, licensed chemical dependency counselors, 24-hour nursing professionals, a staff psychiatrist, a staff chef, and direct care personnel. Our counseling staff provides individualized treatment and care for our clients with an emphasis on tailoring treatment to the specific needs of each individual. Additionally, our staff provides family counseling, relapse prevention, life skills, and grief and trauma counseling.
Into Action Recovery Centers provides an abstinence-based program and all of our staff members have a strong understanding of the recovery process through personal experience. We are passionate about sharing the process involved in living a drug and alcohol-free life. We offer free aftercare for the men who complete our program and have a strong alumni network that remains active in the community. We also offer other amenities such as dietician-prepared meals, mindfulness-based meditation training, outings, and fitness training.