What Is Trauma Informed Therapy?
Discover the techniques and benefits of trauma informed therapy and how to recognize when it is time to seek help.
What Is Trauma?
Approximately 60% of men and 50% of women experience at least one traumatic event in their lives. Trauma is an emotional response to a deeply distressing, disturbing, or life-threatening event. It can be caused by an accident, natural disaster, violent assault, emotional or physical abuse, or any other experience that leaves a person feeling overwhelmed and helpless. Trauma can also occur on a national or global scale, as in the case of terrorist attacks or mass shootings. 1
Trauma can be experienced and witnessed by anyone in any age group. Unfortunately, child trauma is a common occurrence, with more than two-thirds of children reporting experiencing at least one traumatic event before the age of sixteen.2
What Is Trauma-Informed Therapy?
Trauma-informed therapy is a type of therapy designed to help people who have experienced traumatic events, teaching them how to understand and cope with their trauma. This therapeutic method is based on the understanding that trauma can profoundly impact mental and physical health.
It can treat a wide range of conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression. Trained mental health professionals, such as counselors, therapists, social workers, and psychiatrists, usually provide trauma-informed therapy.
What Trauma Therapy Can Help With
Trauma-informed therapy can help with various issues, including:
- Domestic violence or intimate partner violence
- Injuries, including traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Physical abuse
- Emotional or psychological abuse
- Sexual abuse or assault
- Early childhood trauma, abuse, or neglect
Techniques of Trauma-Informed Therapy
Trauma-informed therapy offers a variety of techniques to help people heal from their experiences. These will be detailed below.
Physical and Emotional Safety
Physical and emotional safety are two of the most critical aspects of trauma-informed therapy. People who have experienced trauma need to feel safe to open up and discuss their experiences. A safe and secure environment provides a better space to heal and recover.
Collaboration means that the therapist works with the client to create a treatment plan. In addition, the therapist collaborates with other professionals, such as psychiatrists or social workers, to ensure that the client receives the best possible care.
Transparency involves the therapist being open and honest with the client about the therapeutic process as well as their qualifications and experience.
Competency refers to the therapist’s ability to provide adequate care. In other words, the therapist has the necessary skills and knowledge to help the client heal from trauma.
How Effective Is Trauma Therapy?
Trauma therapy is an effective treatment for people who have experienced trauma. It can help them process their experiences, understand what happened to them, and learn how to cope with the aftermath of the trauma. One study found that participants who received trauma-focused therapy for two to three weeks reported an average 25% decrease in PTSD symptoms. 3
Additionally, trauma-informed therapy can help people develop a support network and find resources for dealing with the long-term effects of trauma.
Why Is a Trauma-Informed Approach Necessary?
A trauma-informed approach is necessary because trauma can profoundly and seriously impact mental and physical health. For example, people with trauma are fifteen times more likely to commit suicide, four times more likely to abuse alcohol, and three times more likely to have depression.4
Therefore, therapy that properly addresses and treats trauma is vital. By creating a safe space, clients can heal, manage their symptoms, and work through their trauma effectively.
Another reason why a trauma-informed approach is necessary is that it can help to prevent further traumatization. This is especially important for those who have experienced multiple traumatic events or are at risk of experiencing trauma.
Benefits of Trauma Therapy
There are many benefits of trauma therapy, including:
- Reduce or eliminate trauma-related symptoms
- Empower personal growth
- Refocus the present over the past
- Overcome addictions
- Reduce or eliminate self-harm patterns
- Implement healthier coping skills
- Improve self-worth and self-esteem
- Increase ability to cope with stress
- Reduce anxiety and depression
- Improve relationships
- Increase feelings of safety and security
Obstacles to Receiving Trauma-Informed Therapy
Several obstacles can prevent people from receiving trauma-informed therapy, including the following.
Unable to Understand Different Kinds of Therapy
There are many different types of therapy, and not all of them are right for everyone. Thus, it’s essential for people to find a trauma-informed therapist they feel comfortable with. Otherwise, they may not be able to get the most out of their therapy sessions.
Not Ready to Face Trauma
Not being ready to face trauma is one of the most common obstacles to receiving trauma-informed therapy. Often, people are hesitant to begin treatment because they are afraid of reliving the trauma and opening up old wounds.
Embarrassed to Need Therapy
One of the biggest obstacles to receiving trauma-informed therapy is feeling embarrassed or ashamed to need it in the first place. Nevertheless, the stigma around therapy has gradually been dissipating, allowing for a more positive outlook. Therapy is a safe space and a great way to improve people’s quality of life.
Not Understanding What Trauma Is
Another common obstacle to receiving trauma-informed therapy is not understanding what trauma is. Trauma is often misunderstood as something that only happens to people who experience a life-threatening event, such as combat veterans or survivors of natural disasters.
However, trauma can happen to anyone, and it doesn’t have to be life-threatening to be traumatizing. Trauma can be anything that has a lasting, negative impact on a person’s mental and emotional health, whether experienced first-hand or observed.
Lack of Access to Resources
The lack of access to resources can greatly decrease the opportunity of receiving proper care. This is especially true for people who live in rural areas or don’t have insurance. Fortunately, many organizations provide free or low-cost therapy for people who need it.
When Is It Time to See a Trauma Therapist?
For someone struggling to cope with the aftermath of trauma, it may be time to look into trauma-informed therapy. Trauma therapy can help treat and manage a wide range of symptoms and conditions.
A common side effect of trauma is experiencing flashbacks, the feeling of reliving past memories from a traumatic event. This can happen soon after the event or many years later.
Flashbacks can be very upsetting and distressing, as they cause people to relive vivid traumatic memories in the present moment. They can make individuals feel scared, confused, and out of control.
Insomnia or Trouble Sleeping
It is common for people who have experienced trauma to have trouble sleeping. This can be due to several reasons, such as having nightmares, flashbacks, difficulty relaxing, or anxiety.
Nightmares are typically experienced in those with trauma. They can be very distressing and make it hard to get a good night’s sleep. Nightmares may be about the event itself or something else entirely.
It is common for people who have experienced trauma to try to avoid anything that reminds them of the event. This may mean avoiding people, places, things, or activities that remind them of the trauma.
For example, someone in a car accident may avoid driving or getting in a car, or someone who was sexually assaulted may avoid relationships or places where they feel unsafe.
Isolation or Other Symptoms That Indicate Trauma
Many other symptoms may indicate trauma. These can include isolation, feeling numb or disconnected from others, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.
Treatment at Concise Recovery
Trauma-informed therapy is a type of therapy designed to help people who have experienced trauma. This method recognizes that trauma can profoundly impact a person’s life and that traditional forms of therapy may not be appropriate.
As a result, trauma-informed therapy emphasizes the importance of safety, trust, and empowerment. Therefore, it is often conducted in a safe and confidential setting, such as a therapist’s office.
Concise Recovery offers trauma-informed therapy as part of our comprehensive treatment program. Our therapists are experienced in helping people heal the wounds of trauma and live fuller, more satisfying lives. If you or someone you know is struggling with the effects of trauma, please reach out today to learn more about our programs and how we can help.