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How Therapy Can Help with Trauma

Importance of Trauma and Therapy

Therapy is an effective way to learn how to manage disruptive thoughts, feelings, and emotions stemming from abuse, addiction, and trauma. It helps people with all types of situations. Changes in physical and emotional well-being elicit many different emotions, and therapy can help process those. It provides support and a safe place to share feelings and ideas and process trauma.
For many, therapy is a vital part of the healing process. People from all socio-economic backgrounds seek out therapy. Everyone needs a safe place to talk about their struggles with a non-judgemental person that can help lead them to the path of healing.

What is Trauma?

According to the American Psychological Association, trauma is a response to a difficult event or situation in a person’s life. Experts estimate that 70% of adults in the U.S. have experienced trauma in some form in their lifetime. In the moment, trauma can look like shock, but even after the traumatic event, the effects of trauma can last for many years. In some cases, a person may bury their trauma and may only begin to address it years, sometimes even decades, later.
Trauma could result from an accident, assault, addiction, sexual assault, childhood neglect, or other stressful situations. And new studies have shown that trauma can even be inherited from intergenerational or historical trauma.

Effects of Trauma

The effects of trauma can be long-lasting and even last an entire lifetime if the person cannot get the help they need. Many people who have survived trauma have looked for ways to cope with the trauma through self-medicating. Self-medicating is the attempt to deal with trauma, depression, and anxiety through excessive behavior rather than seeking medical treatment from a doctor.
Self-medicating can often manifest as addiction. For example, a person self-medicating may find themselves in a cycle of addiction by trying to numb themselves with excessive drinking, smoking, or use of prescription or recreational drugs. Others self-medicate through over-exercising or overworking, so their mind is so busy they never have time to process trauma. Through addiction, those suffering from trauma can disassociate and find a way to cope with the pain.

Causes of Trauma

There are many forms of trauma, but here is a list of common causes. It’s important to note that trauma can result from anything that causes psychological or emotional distress.

  • Abuse
  • Victim or witness to a crime or terrorism
  • Injury
  • Near-death experience
  • Divorce
  • Death of a loved one

Symptoms of Trauma

Traumatic events can affect people in a variety of ways. Two people that experience the same trauma may experience different symptoms. These are some common trauma symptoms; however, the list is not exhaustive. Some people can experience all or none of these. And in some cases, their symptoms may manifest differently.

  • Intrusive or negative thoughts
  • Night sweats and nightmares
  • Visual images of the event
  • Difficulty concentrating or loss of memory
  • Confusion
  • Unexplained dramatic mood swings
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Fear of leaving the home
  • Panic attacks and racing heart
  • Feeling on edge and jumpy
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Headaches and digestive issues

Trauma and Therapy

Trauma therapy is a style of therapy that focuses on helping people overcome and cope with traumatic events in their lives. There are multiple types of therapies that focus specifically on trauma. Depending on where the trauma stems from, a licensed therapist will decide the best type of therapy for each individual’s situation.
Patients that seek trauma therapy are motivated by different factors. They may visit the therapist to heal from the event and discontinue treatment after overcoming the trauma. Others may be in some form of therapy for a more indefinite period as they work through trauma triggers and learn to find healthy coping strategies and tools.

How Therapy Can Help

Trauma-focused therapy programs can help those with trauma by teaching them how to cope, handle triggers, and start living again. Trauma therapy allows people suffering from trauma to find healthy coping tools, work through fear, build trust, and challenge old belief systems. Here are a few of the most common and effective forms of trauma therapy.

Prolonged Exposure Therapy is a type of therapy where the patient is exposed to the source of the trauma to overcome it. An example of this could be when someone has a fear of water after a near-death drowning experience. They may avoid water for years until they engage in this type of therapy and are forced into the water to overcome their fear.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT focuses on addressing trauma and false beliefs that lead to unhealthy learned coping behavior. Cognitive behavior therapy sessions are a common form of treatment for PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and addictions. It is usually addressed in 12-16 sessions and can be in individual or group settings.

Cognitive Processing Therapy is similar to CBT, but the aim is to understand why the traumatic event occurred and address the feelings, beliefs, and fears that stem from it.

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is interactive psychotherapy that uses rhythmic eye movement (bilateral) stimulation to help release and process emotions stored in the body. This works well with trauma-induced general anxiety, phobias, panic attacks, social anxiety, and OCD.

While you can’t control life’s unpredictable events, you can control how you choose to deal with them. Seeking therapy to deal with trauma is the best way to take control of your life. Life continues after a traumatic event, and yours doesn’t have to come to a standstill. Therapy can help.
If you or someone you love is suffering from trauma, consider some of Core Recovery’s programs, like Intensive Outpatient, Partial Hospitalization, and Medication Assisted Therapy. Reach out for more information about how Core Recovery Programs can help you or your loved one to regain a sense of self and recover from the challenging effects of trauma.

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