What is Trauma Therapy and How is it Different From Other Therapy?

If you or someone close to you has experienced trauma, this article about trauma therapy may be triggering. This National Helpline Database is available to you if you feel you need to talk to someone.

Trauma therapy is a type of talk therapy designed to specifically address the negative effects of trauma in your life. Trauma therapy may help you process past experiences so you can feel more peace and well-being in your life.

Many different kinds of events can be traumatic. The most obvious examples are accidents that cause injury, exposure to violence, or life-threatening events. Chronic abuse, anxiety, and other more subtle sources of negative emotion can also induce trauma.

When the worst happens, trauma therapy is a gentle and effective way to help you heal and find ways to move forward with life. It is important to remember that you are worthy of happiness and love, no matter what. Trauma therapy can help you strengthen yourself and your connections to those around you. It can also prepare you to form new connections if that is what you need or desire.

Keep reading to learn about the healing opportunities and other benefits you can find in professional therapy.

What is Trauma Therapy?

Modern mental health therapy dates back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries with the development of Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic method. The field has evolved and expanded to include a wide variety of therapeutic approaches such as humanistic, cognitive-behavioral, and existential therapies, among others.

Over the years, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of evidence-based practices and an increased focus on mental health care as a field of research, leading to advancements in the understanding and treatment of mental health issues. There has also been a shift toward a more holistic and collaborative approach to therapy. Many practitioners now incorporate elements of multiple therapeutic models into their practice.

What is Trauma Therapy? ︱ Kati Morton

Some of the most common disruptions caused by trauma include insomnia, nightmares, sleep disturbances, or flashbacks. Feelings of isolation or a level of introversion that interferes with your relationships may also be warning signs. Trauma therapists have skills that can help you identify the source of these problems and help you overcome them.

Trauma therapy is useful for people who have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and can be used in conjunction with PTSD medication. It is also useful for those whose past trauma is still negatively impacting their life. These effects are often subtle and hard to detect, so even if you think you don’t need it, trauma therapy may provide surprising benefits.

If you are experiencing disruptions to your daily life because of past events, you may be able to benefit from trauma therapy.

How Trauma Therapy is Different

Psychoanalysis and talk therapies have been around for centuries. Trauma treatment provided by a trained therapist follows an approach that goes above and beyond normal therapeutic modalities. They have been designed to avoid retriggering the trauma, so healing can be nurtured and encouraged. This can lead to faster, more successful therapy requiring less discomfort and providing greater results.

One of the most powerful reasons to pursue trauma therapy is the phenomenon of trauma bonding. In some cases, including chronic exposure to trauma, you might develop an unhealthy emotional attachment, or bond, to an abusive person or behavior. This bond has to be broken in order to heal, and trauma therapists have trauma therapy techniques to help you break the cycle of abuse.

Overcoming trauma bonding will help you in your personal life, and it will help you avoid passing your trauma on to others.

Types of Therapy for Trauma

There are many different ways you can experience and respond to trauma, so therapists have developed multiple ways of approaching therapy. Here are several therapies you can explore for potential benefits:

  1. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)—focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors associated with trauma.
  2. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)—involves recalling traumatic memories while tracking a therapist’s moving finger, with the goal of reducing the emotional distress associated with the memory.
  3. Somatic experiencing (SE)—addresses trauma through awareness and regulation of body sensations.
  4. Prolonged exposure therapy (PE)—involves repeatedly facing and describing traumatic memories in a safe and controlled environment, with the goal of reducing their impact.
  5. Art therapy—uses various forms of creative expression, such as painting or drawing, to help process and heal from traumatic experiences.
  6. Drama therapy—incorporates role-playing and other theatrical techniques to help individuals work through traumatic experiences.
  7. Group therapy—provides a supportive environment for individuals to discuss their experiences and feelings with others who have faced similar trauma.
  8. Family therapy—an integrative approach that can treat multiple people at the same time and provide an avenue to create stronger and more beneficial family bonds.

If these approaches are not right for you, there are others you can explore, and new treatments are being developed every day. The most important thing to remember is to keep trying and not give up.

Woman lying down on the couch while her therapist is looking at her
Remember to keep trying and not give up (Image Source: Shutterstock)

If you do not have convenient access to the specialized care you need, online mental health therapy is available. Online trauma therapy can also be useful if you are nervous or do not want to talk about your experiences in person.

Living Your Best Life

You deserve to live your best life. If you are ready to seek treatment, make an appointment with your doctor or therapist to explore your options. Most healthcare professionals have some training in trauma awareness and if they are not the right provider for you, ask for a recommendation. After a short evaluation, you should be in a better place to take the next step toward healing. Give it a try and begin a road to living your life more fully.