Therapeutic Techniques

The post is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.

Although life tends to be stressful for anyone, there are some situations that no one should ever have to go through. These especially challenging events can shake us to our core, causing us to feel a deep sense of fear, shock, and sadness. In such instances, trauma can take root, impacting our well-being for years to come. 

While the symptoms and effects of trauma can be profoundly difficult to cope with, there are ways to heal from it and move forward with a sense of hope. Here, we’ll be discussing five therapeutic techniques that can be effective in addressing and helping people recover from the impact of trauma.

What Is Trauma? 

Trauma refers to a stressful, scary, or unexpected event or situation that leaves a lasting emotional footprint. People who experience something traumatic often feel out of control of the situation or helpless, making it challenging to cope effectively. 

Examples of traumatic situations include natural disasters, abuse or violence, car accidents, unexpected death, serious illness or injury, and terrorism. People are bound to have different reactions to these events, making it difficult to predict who will develop trauma and who won’t. 

5 Therapies For Trauma

Failure to address symptoms of trauma can lead to long-lasting concerns, including trust issues, hypervigilance, mental health disorders, low self-esteem, addiction, difficulty forming healthy relationships, and more. Thus, it’s vital for those who have experienced trauma to find support and treatment. Below are five common types of therapy utilized to help people process and heal from trauma: 

  1. Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR is a structured form of therapy used to help people process and overcome traumatic memories. It was originally developed for individuals living with PTSD but has since evolved to be used for other concerns. This method works by stimulating the senses on both sides of the body. For example, the client may move their eyes to follow a light back and forth or hear a tone being played by a speaker from each ear, all while discussing a traumatic memory. EMDR has been proven effective and tends to work faster than other types of therapy, helping people find healing in a non-evasive, non-stressful way.
  1. Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT): Cognitive processing therapy, or CPT, is a therapeutic approach that can be effective in alleviating symptoms of PTSD. CPT is a type of talk therapy that focuses on helping people reframe their thoughts about their past experiences. Clients can learn how to identify their unhelpful or untrue thoughts and pick healthier, more rational ones. By constantly challenging one’s thoughts and picking more productive patterns, individuals can shift the way they think about their trauma and experience fewer negative emotions. 
  1. Play Therapy: Play therapy is a practice often used for children that encourages them to express their thoughts and feelings through play. Kids are given the freedom to choose how they play and learn skills like emotional regulation and problem-solving. The therapist also teaches them how to understand other people, retain control over their behavior, and healthily express themselves.
  1. Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT): Trauma-focused CBT is a therapeutic approach meant to help children overcome traumatic experiences or memories alongside their families. It works by teaching kids how to view their trauma in a different light and equipping them with the tools they need for effective emotional regulation. Parents often attend sessions to learn about strategies that can help their child through the trauma. BetterHelp offers online therapy for adults who have children with trauma-related concerns. Speaking with an online therapist can be a helpful way to learn more about treatments like trauma-focused CBT, which local providers may offer. 
  1. Prolonged Exposure (PE): Prolonged exposure, abbreviated PE, is a specific form of talk therapy meant to address symptoms of PTSD and other related concerns. PE works by gradually exposing someone to the thoughts, feelings, and triggers associated with their traumatic memory to reduce the fearful or anxious response they’re having to it. It also helps people understand that trying to avoid the things that remind them of their past trauma may only make their distress worse. 

When searching for a therapist, it’s important to ask which approaches they use and whether they specialize in trauma. Finding the right provider and technique may take some time, but it can help ensure that your situation is addressed with empathy, understanding, and expertise. 

Reclaiming Your Life

After experiencing trauma, you may feel as if months or years of your life have been taken away from you. While the memories may never go away, it is possible for them to fade over time and for you to learn methods to lessen their emotional impact. Remember that just as you are not responsible for your trauma, you are also never alone on your healing journey. By reaching out for help and getting connected with the right tools and support, you can begin to reclaim your life and experience a sense of renewal.

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