Trauma Therapy

Understanding Trauma

What is trauma?

woman covering her faceAccording to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), trauma is an experience or experiences that cause intense physical and psychological reactions.

Trauma has a broad range of sources, ranging from catastrophic natural events like an earthquake or human behavior such as being in a car accident or experiencing a sexual assault. Trauma can also arise from chronic, multiple events from an ongoing situation like substance abuse, childhood trauma, or from prolonged exposure to danger, like living in a war zone, dealing with domestic violence or sexual abuse.

How does trauma manifest?

The responses to traumatic events vary just as widely as the individuals who experience them. Trauma impacts each person differently, affecting their well-being emotionally and psychologically as well as physically.

Although the traumatic event itself may be momentary, its effect may be long-lasting–causing fear, helplessness, anxiety, confusion and other intense feelings that negatively impact how that person functions.   

The psychological effects of trauma

Many trauma stress reactions are normal reactions to abnormal situations. First responses may include sadness, worry, tiredness, or numbness, among others. More severe reactions can be continuous, persisting long after the threat of trauma is gone. Involuntary recollections of the traumatic event or remaining in a state of distress that disrupts sleep and other daily functions indicate a more serious reaction. Fatigue, a refusal to face emotions or participate in activities that are associated with the event, flashbacks, and nightmares are all signs of a delayed response. 

Although these feelings are normal reactions, some people face great challenges in moving on with their lives.

That’s one of the specialties of the SMPsychotherapy team. Our mental health professionals support patients in creating an effective treatment plan to reduce the impact of trauma and developing coping skills to manage their emotions.  

Why trauma therapy?

Experiencing trauma can profoundly affect a person’s life and relationships, causing problems at work, school, with friends, and in family relationships. Trauma therapy can help overcome psychological trauma, significantly improving daily life. Although it can be difficult to overcome negative thoughts by confronting painful events and traumatic memories, with psychotherapy and trauma-focused treatments, trauma-induced symptoms have the potential to diminish gradually over time.

What is trauma therapy?

Trauma therapy—which is also known as trauma-informed therapy or trauma-informed care—is a specialized form of counseling that focuses on addressing the emotional and psychological aftermath of traumatic experiences.

There are various types of trauma therapy but all of them have the same goal—to significantly reduce or completely eliminate traumatization.

SMPsychotherapy and Counseling Services offers several effective and evidence-based forms of therapy, while creating a safe and compassionate space for clients to explore and process their trauma.

Types of trauma therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy targets identifying and modifying problematic thought patterns, leading to a change in behavior patterns. CBT requires regular weekly appointments, during which patients learn practical skills aimed at effectively managing their symptoms of trauma.

Cognitive processing therapy (CPT)

The American Psychological Association (APA) defines cognitive processing therapy as a specific type of cognitive behavioral therapy that helps patients learn how to modify and challenge unhelpful reliefs related to trauma. In therapy sessions, the patient adapts a new way of understanding the traumatic event so that it reduces its ongoing negative effects on their daily life. This therapy is highly recommended for treating the symptoms of PTSD.

Prolonged exposure therapy (PE)

Prolonged Exposure (PE), a specific branch of CBT that relies on behavioral therapy techniques, utilizes gradual and guided exposure to trauma-related memories, emotions, thoughts, and physical sensations. This therapeutic approach is particularly effective in addressing the common tendency to avoid reminders of past experiences of trauma, helping individuals break free from trauma memory avoidance patterns.

Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT)

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) is designed for children and adolescents to amplify outcomes related to trauma in minors. This therapeutic intervention actively involves both the child and a caregiver or trusted adult. Recognized as one of the most effective approaches for addressing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in youth, TF-CBT extends its impact to tackle other trauma-related challenges, including anxiety, depression, and behavioral issues.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR)

EMDR therapy is not a standard talk therapy, because it doesn’t require a person to recount their trauma. Instead, a client will do eye movements or tapping while focusing on an image related to the trauma. Designed to help people quickly resolve their traumatic memories, EMDR helps a person become “unstuck” so their brain can go through its natural healing process. There is no focus on changing emotions, thoughts, or behaviors related to the trauma.

Our approach

Holistic healing

woman with hair covering her faceSMPsychotherapy and Counseling Services employs several evidence-based practices such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), and mindfulness techniques.

Evidence-based practices rely on the most current robust and scientific evidence currently available, incorporating modalities that are validated for effectiveness through rigorous research studies, clinical trials, and other data. Evidence-based approach reduces the possibility of bias or subjective experiences influencing the treatment process.

A trauma-informed therapist works with each patient, creating a unique treatment program that is specially designed for their particular trauma and issues. This type of treatment ensures that your loved one receives the mental health care that offers the best opportunity for healing from their trauma and the damage that it’s doing to their lives.

Client-centered care

Client-centered care is a shift in psychiatry, changing the care from focusing solely on the patient’s problems to also encompassing the patient’s history, strengths, values, beliefs, etc. The psychologist goes beyond the normal practice of merely informing decisions about diagnosis and treatment but also helping them live the life they wish to lead.

Specialized services

Complex trauma therapy

SMPsychotherapy offers a multifaceted and very effective treatment approach for patients with complex trauma issues. Using eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), psychotherapy (talk therapy), medications and a host of other coping mechanisms, patients learn evidence-based methods of relieving the long-term symptoms of complex trauma.

PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)

We specialize in treating PTSD in both adults and children. For adults, we focus our treatment on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Cognitive processing therapy (CPT): prolonged exposure therapy (PE), and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR).

We create individualized treatment plans to provide as much healing as possible for each unique situation. Because of our experiences with PTSD disorder and because we use evidence-based practices, we have excellent references for determining what will work best for each individual.

For children, we utilize trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, Trauma-Focused CBT offers the best empirical evidence of success.

Our therapeutic approach uses direct discussions with the child about the traumatic event (exposure), instruction in anxiety management techniques like relaxation and assertiveness training, and the rectification of inaccurate or distorted thoughts related to the trauma.

We also encourage the participation of the caregiver or adult. With that support, the adult serves not only to support the child through their traumatic experiences but also to alleviate their own distress while gaining valuable parenting skills.

Crisis Intervention

Crisis intervention is an immediate and short-term emergency response to mental, emotional, physical, and behavioral distress. Its primary goal is to swiftly restore an individual’s equilibrium in biopsychosocial functioning, minimizing the potential for long-term trauma or distress.

If you or a loved one need a short-term response to mental, emotional, physical, and behavioral distress, we have a treatment plan that will support you and help put you back on the path to good mental health. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment. 

smiling woman sittingBegin Your Healing Journey

If you or someone you care about is seeking support for trauma recovery, SMPsychotherapy is here for you. Take the first step towards healing by reaching out to schedule an initial consultation. Our compassionate and skilled therapists are ready to guide you through the process of reclaiming your life after trauma.

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