How Long Does It Take to Process Trauma in Therapy?

Research on childhood trauma suggests that it may take between 15 to 30 months to process trauma in therapy. However, some clients have been satisfied with the progress they have made in a shorter period of time. It is impossible to predict how long it will take until the therapy begins. If a person has experienced multiple cases of abuse, such as physical, sexual, emotional abuse or chronic physical or emotional neglect, the therapy may take longer.

The duration of treatment for psychological issues varies from one individual to another. The type and duration of treatment must be tailored to the nature and severity of the difficulties presented by the person. Acute issues usually require fewer treatment sessions than chronic conditions. In addition, the length of treatment also depends on the type of treatment provided; cognitive-behavioral treatments, which focus on a specific problem, are usually shorter than psychotherapies with a broader focus.

So how long does it usually take for treatment to take effect? How long will trauma therapy last? Before addressing the trauma itself, it is important to do preparatory work with the therapist. This usually takes between a few weeks to 3-4 months. During this time, the client will learn the skills needed to work on trauma, understand PTSD and build trust in trauma therapy. The amount of time this takes depends on the life history and experience of the person.

The decision about when to start working specifically on the trauma will be made together during therapy. The cognitive processing therapy program (CPT) usually lasts 12 weeks, so CPT plus preparatory work will probably take between 3.5 and 7 months. Evidence-based therapeutic treatments have been developed to address trauma symptoms. These treatments help people live in the present without being overwhelmed by thoughts and feelings from the past. Writing about traumatic experiences can also help alleviate deep-seated pain.

Skills Training in Affective and Interpersonal Regulation (STAIR) is designed for people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It teaches skills that address emotions and relationships with others, both areas that are often affected by trauma. Choosing the right treatment depends on how prepared a person feels to start making changes and exploring trauma. Sometimes people may start trauma therapy again because new problems have arisen or because they want to deepen their achievements from before. Restoring safety is the first and most important step in recovery, regardless of whether or not the details of the trauma are ever discussed.

The third formal stage of treating childhood trauma is one in which a person can imagine a future in which their trauma does not define them or dictate their decisions.

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