Trauma Informed Therapy

Trauma Informed Therapy is based on the understanding that traumatic experiences can have a profound impact on a person’s psychological, emotional, and physical well-being, and that traditional therapy approaches may not be effective in addressing the specific needs of trauma survivors.

What Is Trauma Informed Therapy?

What Is Trauma Informed Therapy?

Trauma-informed therapy is grounded in a set of principles that emphasize safety, trust, choice, collaboration, and empowerment. These principles are designed to create a therapeutic environment that is sensitive to the needs of trauma survivors and helps to facilitate their healing and recovery.

The goals of trauma-informed therapy are to provide a safe and supportive environment for trauma survivors to explore and process their experiences, to help them develop effective coping strategies for dealing with the ongoing impact of trauma, and to support them in rebuilding their lives in the aftermath of traumatic experiences.

What Is Trauma?

Trauma refers to an experience or event that overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope, leaving them feeling powerless, helpless, or out of control. Traumatic experiences can be physical, emotional, or psychological in nature, and can have a profound impact on a person’s well-being and functioning.

Traumatic experiences can take many different forms, including physical or sexual assault, domestic violence, natural disasters, accidents, or medical procedures. Trauma can also be the result of ongoing stress or adversity, such as poverty, discrimination, or chronic illness.

What Does Trauma Look Like?

The impact of trauma on individuals can vary widely, but common responses can include feelings of fear, anxiety, depression, anger, guilt, shame, or numbness. Trauma can also have physical symptoms, such as fatigue, headaches, muscle tension, or gastrointestinal problems.

How Does Trauma Informed Therapy Work?

How Does Trauma Informed Therapy Work?

Working with your therapist will be a unique experienced based on your own needs. That said, here are some of the things that you might expect when working with a trauma-informed therapist:

Establishing safety

The therapist works to establish a safe and supportive environment in which the client can feel comfortable sharing their experiences. This may involve creating clear boundaries and guidelines for the therapeutic relationship, and providing support and reassurance as needed.

Building trust

The therapist works to build trust with the client by demonstrating empathy, compassion, and a non-judgmental attitude. This can help to create a sense of safety and security, and can help the client feel more comfortable opening up about their experiences.

Psychoeducation

The therapist may provide psychoeducation to the client about the effects of trauma on the body and mind, and how trauma can impact daily functioning. This can help the client to understand their experiences and develop coping strategies.

Processing trauma

The therapist helps the client to process their traumatic experiences in a safe and supportive environment. This may involve exploring thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations related to the trauma, and working through any difficult or distressing memories.

Developing coping strategies

The therapist works with the client to develop effective coping strategies for managing the ongoing impact of trauma. This may include developing skills for managing anxiety, stress, or other difficult emotions, as well as practicing self-care and developing healthy boundaries.

Empowerment and resilience-building

The therapist helps the client to develop a sense of empowerment and resilience in the aftermath of trauma. This may involve exploring strengths and resources, setting goals, and building a sense of agency and control over one’s life.

Grounding exercises

These exercises help individuals to focus on the present moment and feel more grounded and centered. Examples of grounding exercises include deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or using the five senses to focus on the environment.

Visualization exercises

Visualization exercises can help individuals to create a safe and calming mental image that they can use when feeling overwhelmed or triggered. For example, the therapist may guide the individual through a visualization of a peaceful beach or forest.

Journaling

Journaling can help individuals to process their thoughts and feelings related to trauma in a safe and non-judgmental way. The therapist may provide prompts or questions to guide the journaling process.

Mindfulness exercises

Mindfulness exercises can help individuals to develop greater awareness and acceptance of their experiences and emotions related to trauma. The therapist may guide the individual through a mindfulness meditation or body scan.

Role-playing exercises

Role-playing exercises can help individuals to practice effective communication and boundary-setting skills, which can be particularly helpful for individuals who have experienced interpersonal trauma.

Besides Trauma, What Does Trauma Informed Therapy Help People With?

Besides Trauma, What Does Trauma Informed Therapy Help People With?

While trauma-informed therapy is primarily used to treat individuals who have experienced trauma, it can also be helpful for individuals who are struggling with a wide range of mental health issues. Here are some examples of issues that trauma-informed therapy can help with:

Anxiety

Trauma can often lead to feelings of anxiety, and trauma-informed therapy can help individuals to develop coping strategies and reduce symptoms of anxiety.

Depression

Trauma can also contribute to symptoms of depression, and trauma-informed therapy can help individuals to identify and address the underlying causes of their depression.

Substance misuse

Individuals who have experienced trauma may be more likely to engage in substance abuse as a way of coping with their symptoms. Trauma-informed therapy can help individuals to develop healthier coping strategies and reduce their reliance on substances.

Relationship challenges

Trauma can have a profound impact on an individual’s ability to form and maintain healthy relationships. Trauma-informed therapy can help individuals to develop better communication and interpersonal skills, and to heal from past relationship trauma.

Eating disorders

Trauma can also be a contributing factor in the development of eating disorders. Trauma-informed therapy can help individuals to address the underlying causes of their eating disorder and develop healthier coping strategies.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Trauma-informed therapy is often used to treat individuals who are experiencing symptoms of PTSD, such as flashbacks, nightmares, and hypervigilance.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Trauma is a common factor in the development of BPD, and trauma-informed therapy can help individuals with BPD to develop healthier coping strategies and build emotional regulation skills.

Dissociative disorders

Trauma can also lead to the development of dissociative disorders, such as dissociative identity disorder (DID). Trauma-informed therapy can help individuals with dissociative disorders to develop greater self-awareness and reduce dissociative symptoms.

Chronic pain

Trauma can contribute to the development of chronic pain, and trauma-informed therapy can help individuals to address the underlying emotional and psychological factors that may be contributing to their pain.

Grief and loss

Trauma can also be associated with feelings of grief and loss, particularly if an individual has experienced the death of a loved one or the loss of a significant relationship. Trauma-informed therapy can help individuals to process their feelings of grief and develop healthy coping strategies.

Types of Trauma Informed Therapy

Types of Trauma Informed Therapy

There are different types of trauma-informed therapy. They can be trauma-focused approaches to other common types of therapy. Additionally, therapists can get certifications in specific types of trauma therapy. For example:

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT is a type of therapy that focuses on the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. In the context of trauma, CBT can help individuals to identify and challenge negative thoughts and beliefs related to their experiences.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is a type of therapy that uses bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements or tapping, while the individual recalls traumatic memories. This technique is thought to help desensitize the individual to the traumatic memories and promote emotional processing.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT is a type of therapy that combines cognitive-behavioral techniques with mindfulness practices. It is often used to treat individuals with complex trauma and may focus on emotion regulation and interpersonal effectiveness.

Narrative Therapy

Narrative therapy focuses on the individual’s story and how they make sense of their experiences. In the context of trauma, narrative therapy can help individuals to develop a new and more positive narrative about their experiences.

Somatic Experiencing

Somatic experiencing is a type of therapy that focuses on releasing the tension and trauma held in the body. The therapist helps the individual to identify and release physical sensations related to trauma, such as muscle tension or numbness.

Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (TF-CBT)

TF-CBT is a type of therapy specifically designed to treat children and adolescents who have experienced trauma. It combines cognitive-behavioral techniques with play therapy and family therapy.

Certified Clinical Trauma Professional (CCTP) or Specialist (CCTS)

The CCTP certification program provides training in a range of trauma-focused therapies and interventions, including CBT, EMDR, and somatic experiencing. The Certified Clinical Trauma Specialist (CCTS) program focuses on the treatment of complex trauma and provides training in a range of evidence-based therapies and interventions.

Trauma-Informed Yoga Certification

This certification program provides training in the use of yoga as a complementary therapy for trauma recovery.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Certification

This certification program provides training in the use of mindfulness-based techniques to reduce stress and promote well-being, which can be helpful for individuals who have experienced trauma.

Next Steps: Ready for Trauma Informed Therapy?

Many of our therapists are educated and experienced in trauma informed therapy. You can contact us today for a consultation.

Alternatively, browse our therapist directory to find the therapist who is right for you. You can use the dropdown boxes in the directory to filter for trauma informed therapists under the “how we help” category.

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