Trauma therapy, also known as trauma-focused therapy, is a type of psychotherapy that helps individuals who have experienced a traumatic event. Trauma can take many forms, such as abuse, neglect, violence, natural disasters, accidents, or combat. Traumatic events can cause physical, emotional, and psychological harm and may result in a range of symptoms, including anxiety, depression, flashbacks, nightmares, hypervigilance, avoidance, and dissociation. Trauma therapy aims to help individuals process and cope with their traumatic experiences and reduce the negative impact of trauma on their lives.
What is Trauma Informed Therapy?
Trauma-informed therapy is an approach to therapy that recognizes the impact of trauma on an individual’s life and seeks to create a safe and supportive environment for healing and recovery. Trauma-informed therapy takes into account the complex ways in which trauma affects an individual’s thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and relationships.
Here are some key principles of trauma-informed therapy:
- Safety: Trauma-informed therapy prioritizes safety and creating a safe and supportive environment for healing.
- Trustworthiness: Trauma-informed therapy emphasizes building trust between the individual and therapist. The therapist establishes clear boundaries, communicates openly, and follows through on commitments.
- Choice: Trauma-informed therapy values the individual’s autonomy and choice. The therapist provides choices and options throughout the therapeutic process, empowering the individual to make decisions that are in their best interest.
- Collaboration: Trauma-informed therapy emphasizes collaboration and partnership between the individual and therapist. The therapist works with the individual to set goals, develop a treatment plan, and regularly check-in on progress.
- Empowerment: Trauma-informed therapy aims to empower the individual to take an active role in their healing and recovery. The therapist works to promote the individual’s sense of agency, autonomy, and self-efficacy.
Can Counseling Help Relieve Trauma Symptoms?
Yes, seeking counseling after a traumatic event is generally recommended. Traumatic events can have a significant impact on a person’s mental health and well-being, and counseling can be an important step in the healing process. Counseling can help individuals process their experiences, manage their symptoms, and develop coping strategies to deal with the aftermath of trauma.
Trauma can affect people in different ways and to varying degrees. Some individuals may experience symptoms immediately following the event, while others may not experience symptoms until much later. Common symptoms of trauma include anxiety, depression, flashbacks, nightmares, hypervigilance, avoidance, and dissociation.
Counseling can be beneficial in helping individuals understand and manage these symptoms. A therapist can provide a safe and supportive environment for individuals to express their emotions and work through their trauma. They can also provide education on the effects of trauma, help individuals identify triggers, and teach coping skills to manage symptoms.
Additionally, counseling can help individuals regain a sense of control and empowerment after a traumatic event. Trauma can leave individuals feeling powerless and vulnerable, but counseling can help individuals develop new ways of thinking and behaving that promote healing and growth.
How Does Trauma Affect the Brain?
Trauma can have a significant impact on the brain and its functioning. Traumatic events can disrupt the normal functioning of the brain and cause changes in brain structure, chemistry, and function. These changes can result in a range of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral symptoms, including anxiety, depression, flashbacks, hypervigilance, and avoidance.
Here are some ways that trauma affects the brain:
- Increased Fear and Anxiety: The amygdala is a part of the brain that is responsible for processing emotions, particularly fear and anxiety. In response to trauma, the amygdala becomes overactive, leading to increased feelings of fear and anxiety.
- Difficulty Regulating Emotions: The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that is responsible for decision-making, impulse control, and emotion regulation. Trauma can lead to decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex, which can result in difficulty regulating emotions, controlling impulses, and making decisions.
- Memory Problems: The hippocampus is a part of the brain that is responsible for memory and learning. Trauma can cause the hippocampus to shrink, which can lead to difficulty remembering details of the traumatic event and other important information.
These changes in brain function and structure can have significant long-term effects on a person’s mental health and well-being.
Goals of Trauma Therapy
The goals of trauma therapy are to help individuals process and heal from the effects of trauma, reduce symptoms, and improve overall functioning and quality of life. Trauma therapy aims to provide a safe and supportive environment for individuals to work through their trauma and develop coping skills to manage symptoms.
Here are some common goals of trauma therapy:
- Processing the trauma: Trauma therapy aims to help individuals process their traumatic experiences and the associated emotions. This involves exploring and discussing the trauma in a safe and supportive environment. The therapist may use techniques such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), or exposure therapy to help the individual confront and work through the trauma.
- Reducing symptoms: Trauma therapy aims to reduce symptoms of trauma such as anxiety, depression, flashbacks, and hypervigilance. The therapist may use techniques such as relaxation techniques, mindfulness, or grounding exercises to help the individual manage their symptoms.
- Improving emotional regulation: Trauma therapy aims to help individuals improve their emotional regulation and coping skills. The therapist may teach the individual techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or guided imagery to help them manage their emotions and stress.
- Building resilience: Trauma therapy aims to help individuals build resilience and improve their ability to cope with stress and adversity. The therapist may work with the individual to develop new ways of thinking and behaving that promote healing and growth.
- Improving relationships: Trauma therapy aims to help individuals improve their relationships with others. Trauma can often lead to difficulties in forming and maintaining relationships. The therapist may work with the individual to improve communication skills, set boundaries, and develop healthy relationship patterns.
- Restoring a sense of safety: Trauma therapy aims to help individuals restore a sense of safety and control. Trauma can leave individuals feeling powerless and vulnerable. The therapist may work with the individual to identify ways to restore a sense of safety and control in their lives.
Trauma Therapy in the Denver Area
Trauma therapy can be an effective way for individuals to process and cope with the effects of trauma. If you or someone you know has experienced a traumatic event, consider seeking the support of a qualified trauma therapist who can help guide you on your healing journey. To get started, you can email us, use the contact page, or call 720-551-4553 for a free, 15-minute phone consultation. You can also read more about our Trauma Therapy services on our Trauma Web Page.