Coping SkillsJudy SeoudTrauma Therapy

How Therapy Can Help You Cope After Trauma

By March 29th, 2022 No Comments

How therapy can help you cope after traumaYou have probably heard someone at some point refer to an event that they have witnessed as “traumatizing”. Think back to a time that you have taken a difficult test or watched a really bad movie – in today’s mainstream language you might describe it as a “traumatizing” event. But what do therapists actually consider to be trauma?  And how can therapy help you cope after trauma?

What Is Trauma?

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), trauma is defined as the exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence in one (or more) of the following ways: 

  1. Directly experiencing the traumatic event(s). 
  2. Witnessing, in person, the event(s) as it occurred to others. 
  3. Learning that the traumatic event(s) occurred to a close family member or close friend. In cases of actual or threatened death of a family member or friend, the event(s) must have been violent or accidental.
  4. Experiencing repeated or extreme exposure to aversive details of the traumatic event(s).

Healing From Trauma

Trauma is unique in that experiencing a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster, war, physical or emotional abuse, and neglect, not only affects you at the time but, if left untreated, can cause lasting negative effects on your mental health. This is where therapy comes into play. Healing from trauma is a marathon, not a sprint. Just like a marathon, you need training, a support system, bravery, and determination. Healing from trauma can be frustrating, scary, overwhelming, encouraging, and relieving. This is why having a therapist to help process and work through the different stages of trauma is recommended. 

How Therapy Can Help You Cope After Trauma

Therapy specifically geared to address trauma is called trauma-informed therapy, in which the therapist is mindful of the client’s life experiences when providing treatment. Trauma-informed therapy seeks to:

  1. Assist clients with understanding and identifying self-defeating behaviors triggered by the traumatic event.
  2. Assist clients with identifying triggers to traumatic responses. Develop a plan to deal with these triggers in an adaptive way. Assist clients with regaining their “personal power”.
  3. Assist clients to learn how to manage trauma-related symptoms using individualized tools to help manage those symptoms.

Successful Trauma Therapies

There are several different types of therapies that have been successful in treating trauma. These include: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. A therapist using CBT would help identify maladaptive negative thoughts. They would help you reframe them into positive and accurate thoughts that reflect the current reality.  A therapist using DBT will help you understand the overwhelming emotions you experience. They will teach you how to adaptively regulate those emotions. The aim of EMDR is to create a REM-like state for the client to allow them to process unresolved memories from their trauma story by using bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements.

If you’d like to speak with someone about therapy after trauma, call today to schedule a 15-minute phone consultation or to book an appointment.