Trauma Treatment: What Are My Options?

The unfortunate truth is that trauma is common. It’s so common, in fact, that 6 out of 10 men and 5 out of 10 women will experience a traumatic event at least once in their life. Worldwide, nearly 70% of people report experiencing trauma at least once. Furthermore, over 10 million American adults in any given year have Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). All of these statistics are likely under the actual amount as many people fail to recognize “little t” trauma (discussed in our last blog) as a traumatic event. With trauma being so prevalent, researchers are constantly looking for new ways to understand, approach, and treat trauma. Below are three methods currently being used in therapy rooms across America for trauma treatment. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) EMDR is a relatively new approach, developed in the late 1980s. EMDR utilizes bilateral stimulation - which can be done with lights, waving a finger, and so on - to help our brain repair itself after trauma by activating both sides of the brain. Aside from the signature eye movement phase, EMDR also includes gathering history, assessing coping skills, and establishing procedures on how to deal with trauma in the future.  EMDR is extremely effective for trauma, particularly PTSD. Some studies show 90% of participants no longer met the criteria for PTSD after treatment. Other studies show participants reported less symptoms after only 3-5 sessions.   Trauma-Informed Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) TF-CBT is a form of cognitive behavior therapy used primarily for children or those who have experienced childhood trauma. The target age range for TF-CBT is under 21 years of age. TF-CBT includes teaching the child or young adult how to stop thoughts, establishing coping skills such as relaxation strategies, exposure to triggering thoughts in a safe and controlled environment, and alteration of thought processes to establish new reactions to triggers. Multiple studies performed suggest children respond well to TF-CBT. Children who underwent TF-CBT exhibited less symptoms of PTSD, meaning the approach reduced trauma symptoms significantly. Prolonged Exposure Prolonged exposure includes gradually introducing an individual to a trigger. The client is able to set the pace and determine what feels comfortable enough to endure and what feels overwhelming. The introduction to the trigger can either be in-vivo (or in real life), such as having someone who experienced trauma from a hurricane witness a storm, or imagined, such as having someone who went through a car accident picture elements of the crash. Coping skills and relaxation techniques are paired with the exposure, leading to the individual being able to handle progressively more aggressive reminders of the incident (for example, a survivor of abuse may go from not being able to think about the offender at all to driving through the offender’s neighborhood). Prolonged exposure has been around longer than other approaches, leaving greater time for it to be studied. In numerous studies, this approach has shown to be especially effective against PTSD. Prolonged exposure continues to be one of the highest recommended approaches for trauma. Hopefully this blog helps you to recognize some of the most common approaches to trauma in mental health therapy! If you need some help recognizing or working through any kind of trauma, we’re here to help. Reach out to us today by emailing to make an initial appointment and start healing from trauma today. We look forward to hearing from you!