Trauma Therapy

View. Process. Resolve.

Most people experience trauma at some point in their life. Some people are able to resolve and process it on their own, but that’s not true for everyone. 

For a number of people, trauma will start a long experience of negative symptoms and mental health issues. These individuals require help in order to reprocess their trauma and move past it. 

Trauma therapy helps address the symptoms of trauma and the accompanying mental health issues that may be diagnosed along with it. 

Defining Trauma

Trauma is often thought of as a term reserved exclusively for people who have lived through severe, life-threatening moments; natural disasters, terrorism, and war are events that are usually associated with trauma. However, we’re seeing that trauma can be defined with a wider lens than before.

What makes an event traumatic is not defined by the event itself. What’s traumatic for one person might not be traumatic for someone else. Being in a scary situation can be traumatic.

Trauma is best defined as anything that makes someone feel unsafe or less than completely safe. Being in a car while someone drives recklessly can be traumatic for the passengers. Even if there was no accident.

Complex Trauma

Complex trauma is a long-term kind of trauma. Complex trauma develops over a period of time where trauma is persistently present. This is found in cases like bullying and abuse

People who experience complex trauma will likely develop complex posttraumatic stress disorder (c-PTSD). This form of PTSD typically (but not always) develops while someone is in the development stages of life. Children are more impressionable than adults, so this condition can become deeply rooted in a person’s identity.

If untreated, people may find they have a hard time feeling safe and secure. It can stop someone from living their desired lifestyle.


Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and c-PTSD develop after symptoms become prolonged. It’s typical to be shaken up after a scary event, but when symptoms continue for months, it’s likely to be PTSD or c-PTSD.

These forms of PTSD both present symptoms fairly similarly:

  • Intrusive memories, nightmares, and flashbacks of the trauma
  • Strained relationships due to avoiding social situations or places
  • Difficulty controlling feelings or emotions
  • Loss of personal values, principles, or worldviews
  • An overwhelming feeling of guilt
  • Negative self-view
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Stress-induced symptoms such as chest pain, migraines, and nausea

PTSD and c-PTSD have similar symptoms, but c-PTSD also has several unique symptoms:

  • Abnormally regulated emotions
  • Difficulties relating to and connecting with others
  • Extremely negative view of self

Because those with c-PTSD experienced trauma for a long time, the effects often run deep. Recovering from any form of PTSD may take time, but many treatments have been proven to help people manage symptoms and find freedom.

Do You Need to Be Diagnosed With PTSD to Do Trauma Therapy?

Trauma therapy is not exclusively for those with a formal diagnosis of PTSD. Not all trauma leads to PTSD, but it can affect your life. People should feel free to get counseling about any challenges they face.

Seeking help after experiencing trauma can help someone avoid developing PTSD, manage fears, and build positive cognition. Not everyone can process traumatic events alone. It’s much easier with help.

What Trauma Therapy Looks Like

Trauma therapy is a special form of therapy designed for those who are experiencing the emotional response caused by trauma. There are a few different methodologies a therapist might use. Each of these therapies have been proven effective over time.

Prolonged Exposure

Prolonged exposure therapy fights PTSD head-on. That being said, it’s not for everyone. It directly addresses the cause of the trauma. This is typically through recalling and describing the events. 

Over time this gradually decreases symptoms and fears. The more a client talks about it, the easier thinking about it becomes. 

Cognitive Processing Therapy

Cognitive processing therapy (CPT) is a specialized type of cognitive behavioral therapy that has been used since 1966. It’s designed to challenge the beliefs caused by trauma. It’s typically performed over 12 sessions.

CPT is a pointed version of CBT that attacks negative cognitions at the root. This is a tried and true method, but is a rarer form of trauma counseling.

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Apart from CPT, there are other trauma-focused forms of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). These are mostly used for children and adolescents who experienced trauma. 

CBT connects thoughts, emotions, and behaviors related to the trauma. From there, the patient can better understand how they can move forward.

Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

Eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is considered the gold standard for trauma treatment. Traumatic memories are painful and are often stored in our brains incorrectly. We need to reprocess these traumatic memories for flashbacks to stop.

EMDR uses bilateral stimulation to help patients reprocess the way they perceive traumatic memories. It’s a patient-guided form of therapy where the counselor acts more as a mediator than the one leading the session.

Why Trauma Therapy is So Important

Seeking trauma therapy is important for several reasons. Unresolved trauma can lead to a number of other mental health issues:

On top of all of this is the likelihood that your unresolved trauma could be causing avoidant behaviors that are affecting your day-to-day life.

Seeking therapy for trauma gives you a chance to talk about your past in a safe space. The goal is to allow for healing without triggering panic attacks or retraumatizing.

All of this is designed to help patients reverse negative cognitions about themselves that have developed after the trauma. Any self-esteem issues should be taken into account and resolved as well.

Feel Better Today with Inner Balance

Because there are often other mental health considerations when getting counseling for trauma, a good trauma therapy plan will address other mental health issues. Your counselor might also suggest prescriptions to go along with your other forms of therapy.

It may not seem like it now, but you can feel better. Inner Balance offers trauma-focused counseling with individualized treatment plans. Our certified trauma counselors can help you find freedom from the past.

We know that asking for help can be hard and often scary. We do our best to simplify the process and get you the help you need. Request a consultation to see how we can help.

An aerial shot of a mountain.

More Resources

Anxiety In Marriage

A battle for a secure connection

PTSD and Marriage

A battle for safe relationships

Emotionally-Focused Therapy

Security. Empathy. Validation.


A battle for executive function

The Gottman Method

Communication. Trust. Commitment.

Bipolar Disorder

A battle for consistency

Stress Management

Control. Composure. Calm.

Panic Attacks

A battle for quietude

Low Self-Esteem

A battle for a healthy view of yourself


A battle for peaceful memories

Gender Affirmation Therapy

Expression. Acceptance. You.

Alcohol Use Disorder

A battle for physical and mental liberation


A battle for mutually satisfying relationships


A battle for calm


A battle for mental security


A battle for feeling grounded

Complex Trauma

A battle for freedom from the past


A battle for behavioral control

Here’s how it works

We know asking for help is hard, that’s why we want to make it easy for you.


Reach out


Show up


Feel better

Sign up for our newsletter

Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates.

Inner Balance Counseling

1234 S Power Rd Suite 252
Mesa, AZ 85206

1414 W Broadway Rd Suite 122
Tempe, AZ 85282

Front office: Monday - Friday 9am-3pm
By appointment only.

© 2024 Inner Balance. All right reserved.

© Inner Balance. All right reserved.