Understanding Different Types of Trauma Therapy

Approximately 70% of adults will experience some type of traumatic experience at least once in their lives. For years, doctors have been looking for better and more effective ways to treat trauma. Because people experience and process traumatic events differently, it can be difficult to identify a therapy method that is more effective. Counseling centers and therapists use several different types of trauma therapy to help people in their most vulnerable moments.

Also known as talk therapy, psychotherapy provides the patient with an opportunity to talk about their trauma and work on the healing process. Doctors help their patients talk about the problems they're experiencing on a regular basis. The patient and doctor form a bond of trust so that they can open up and share. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of behavioral therapy.

Doctors help their patients identify behaviors and attitudes that reflect negatively on their lives. Patients then work to replace these negative attitudes with positive ones. Patients often use these new skills in their daily lives. Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is similar to CBT, but it helps teach patients new and more positive ways to address trauma-related beliefs and emotions.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is another form of trauma therapy that aims to better regulate emotions. This form of therapy has been effective in helping those who have suicidal thoughts. It helps instill new skills to help people change unhealthy behaviors. CBT focuses on recognizing problematic thought patterns and working to change them, which then helps to change behavioral patterns. This treatment requires the person to attend weekly appointments to learn skills that can be used to control their symptoms.

Throughout the treatment, the person will practice the skills outside of the sessions. Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) is designed for children and adolescents. It works to improve a variety of trauma-related outcomes in children, such as anxiety, depression, and behavioral problems. The treatment lasts 8 to 25 sessions and involves both the child and a caregiver or a trusted adult. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) is different from most talk therapy. It does not require a person to explain their trauma in detail.

Instead, the person will perform eye movements or hit with the eyes while focusing on an image related to the trauma. EMDR therapy helps a person to “unwind” so that their brain can go through its natural healing process. Exposure Therapy is a common form of behavioral therapy where you gradually face your fears (for example, memories of a traumatic event) without the dreaded consequence. Stress Inoculation Training (SIT), also known as relaxation training, teaches people to manage stress and anxiety. Somatic Therapy aims to “release repressed trauma” to alleviate mental health symptoms and chronic pain, through methods such as developing body awareness and establishing a foundation in the body. Narrative Exposure Therapy helps people establish a coherent narrative of life in which to contextualize traumatic experiences. Thoughts and Trauma: Theory and Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from the Perspective of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is another approach that helps patients learn to modify and challenge useless beliefs related to trauma. Any therapist, no matter what type of therapy you're working with, wants to help you grow and heal through your traumatic experience.

Trauma can occur after a one-off event, such as an accident or assault, or after repeated events, such as an abusive relationship or child neglect. Once this is perceived, the therapist can determine which aspects of the traumatic event interfere with the processing and integration of the trauma. While there are numerous therapeutic approaches, the purpose of all trauma-centered therapy is to integrate the traumatic event into your life, not to subtract it.

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