Trauma is a lasting psychological, physical, and emotional response to an event, experience, or situation that is deeply distressing or disturbing. It can cause feelings of isolation, guilt, shame, and powerlessness. Trauma can also lead to mental health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety. People often experience an exaggerated startle response, difficulty sleeping, poor concentration, hypervigilance, and emotional distress of numbness. These symptoms might be present all the time, or they might be present only when a reminder of the trauma is introduced into a person’s environment.
Therapy can help people work through these symptoms and begin to heal on an emotional, social, and even neurobiological level. That’s right - the brain’s plasticity is truly remarkable in its ability to rewire and respond to stimuli differently. In other words, trauma is treatable, and it is entirely possible that you will feel better and go on to live a happy, healthy life, even if that feels impossible right now.
Trauma informed care recognizes the impact of trauma and strives to mitigate its potential negative consequences and responds with hope, patience, and compassion. In other words, it's a way of providing care that takes into account the fact that many people have experienced trauma in their lives and that their behaviors, thoughts, and feelings, may be deeply impacted and not “make sense” on the surface to those who do not understand trauma.
People who have experienced trauma sometimes report feeling a disconnect between their logical mind and what their body is telling them. They may logically know that it is relatively safe to go to the grocery store, but their body has an overwhelming response to even thinking about grocery shopping since they experienced a violent crime in a grocery store years ago. That disconnect between logic and the body’s response is difficult and sometimes impossible to override. Trauma informed therapy can help the mind and body come back together again.
Trauma informed therapy generally focuses on three main areas: safety, choice, and collaboration. Safety is crucial in therapy, both for the therapist and the individual receiving treatment. The therapist should create a safe environment where the individual eventually feels comfortable discussing their experiences and emotions, even if that takes some time building a solid relationship. Choice is also important in trauma informed therapy. The individual should feel like they have a say in what happens in treatment. They should be able to choose what topics they discuss and what goals they want to work on, otherwise the therapist may inadvertently be recreating a trauma where consent or choice were ignored. Collaboration is key in trauma informed therapy, as the therapist should collaborate with the individual to create a treatment plan that meets their needs.
There are many different types of therapy that can help people who have experienced trauma. Some of the most common approaches include eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT). We offer all of these types of therapy at Laurel Therapy Collective.
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a type of therapy that uses bilateral stimulation (eye movements, hand taps, or audio tones) to help people process and heal from traumatic experiences by broadening the neural network on which the trauma is stored and connecting that network with positive memories and internal resources. EMDR has been found to be effective in treating PTSD, anxiety, phobias, and other mental health conditions.
Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) is a type of therapy that combines elements of CBT and EMDR, and has been found to be an effective treatment for PTSD, depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions.
Though it may seem impossible, recovery and healing from your trauma is possible. Research has shown that therapy is often more effective than medication in treating trauma. If you are interested in learning more about trauma informed therapy, schedule a free consultation today to see if one of our therapists is a good match.
Laurel Therapy Collective
offers online therapy to California residents for anxiety, transitions, and trauma.