Common Therapy Approaches to Help Heal Trauma
If you or someone you love has experienced a traumatic event, you might be looking for a treatment to help heal that trauma. Healing takes times and what works for one person is not going to work for everyone. Finding the right therapy approach for you is going to take personalized care and a discussion with a mental health professional who understands your specific situation and your mindset. If you are looking for ways to heal trauma, here are some of the most common approaches taken:
Often, unless a patient has a substance abuse problem connected to their trauma, there might be an option of adding a medication to help prevent or disrupt a person’s reaction to trauma. While a medication might not completely solve the problem, it can be helpful when it comes to dampening the effect of some symptoms, including intrusive thoughts, depression, anxiety, heightened arousal, reactivity, and irritability.
When paired with effective therapy sessions, medications can be a good way to help depress and then dispose of some of the most intrusive symptoms of trauma. Medications on their own, however, are not enough to actually do away with the mind and body’s reaction to a traumatic situation. It can only make the reaction less intense, so a person can begin to learn how to manage the symptoms they are experiencing.
This is an option that many psychiatrists will recommend, but it is important for patient and psychiatrist to carefully consider whether or not it is the right option for their needs. It is also critically important for the patient to keep his doctor updated about whether or not the medications are helping, as some people simply do not respond well to certain medications. Any pharmacological solution should be closely tied to psychotherapy.
One of the most common types of therapy related to healing trauma is behavior therapy. Through processes like exposure therapy, a person will gradually start to face and deal with their trauma. Starting off small and building into bigger and bigger successes, a person will learn that their negative reactions are not necessary and will find a better way to deal with their fear.
Exposure therapy and behavior therapies alike have been found to be very effective on reducing the depression and anxiety that come along with trauma. In these therapies, an individual might be asked to imagine what they fear or the event that caused them trauma. Their therapist might ask them to introduce themselves into situations that cause them fear and then to practice relaxation techniques to help reduce the fear response. These treatments have been especially effective for individuals experiencing PTSD as a result of trauma.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
For those that mainly experience anxiety as a result of trauma, cognitive behavioral therapy might be the best option. This therapy approach has to do with decreasing negative thoughts and increasing positive thoughts. Exposure therapy is often a part of cognitive behavioral therapy, as is teaching individuals techniques that they can use to manage their stress or anxiety.
A patient might be asked to identify their trauma and to evaluate it, which helps the patient to realize that the thoughts and fears they are having are irrational, so they can be replaced with a much more accurate and positive response to stimuli that once triggered them to respond negatively. A large part of this type of therapy focuses on replacing negative thoughts and behaviors with positive thoughts and behaviors.
Some individuals find that their issues are best addressed in a group setting, especially if many of those individuals are experiencing the same sort of symptoms or have the same sort of trauma. It is important for the individual who is trying to heal their trauma to feel like they are in a safe space, talking to people who understand them or, at the very least, are trying to understand them. Many people might choose group therapy as an addition to one-on-one therapy. Some groups will be led by peers, by many are also led by therapists. Each individual should find the type of group that best fits their needs.
Groups provide a wide variety of treatments, including teaching coping skills and self-care, helping the victim of trauma feel heard and understood, finding role models in the group of people who have progressed or even moved beyond their trauma, and educating individuals on the reality of their trauma and the healthiest ways to deal with it. A group can help a reluctant individual tell their story, which is often an integral part of healing trauma. They can identify where they are in their journey, what they need or want to do to progress, and how they can motivate themselves to make the changes they need to make.
The Bottom Line
There are a wide variety of therapy approaches that will help to heal trauma. Most individuals believe that the only option open to them is sitting and talking to a therapist. And while this is an effective treatment for many patients, others might be looking for another option that better fits their needs or is able to help them reach their goals. When it comes to finding the right treatment for you it is extremely important to talk to a therapist who can help you better understand the nature of your trauma and what actions you should take in order to get the healing you want.