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.
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 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 Post Traumatic 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.
PTSD and c-PTSD
Post-traumatic 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
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 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.
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.