Are you struggling with difficult thoughts and feelings? Are you curious about how trauma might be affecting your life? Is now the right time to reach out for help? With so many concepts to navigate, it might be hard to figure out what your next steps should be! By understanding the meaning of trauma, how it might be showing up in your daily functioning, and how trauma informed therapy can benefit you, you can take control of your own healing!
What Is Trauma?
First, let’s talk about trauma. By definition, trauma is a response to witnessing or being exposed to an emotionally-disturbing, distressing, or life-threatening event or events. It can impact your ability to cope effectively and may cause intense, confusing, or negative reactions. Trauma can affect you on multiple levels, including what you think, how you are able to relate to others, and how you feel emotionally, physically, or spiritually. Even if we don’t realize it, traumatic events can stick with us for a long time and may play a role in our lives in ways we never considered. Some common symptoms of trauma include the following:
Anger / Agitation
Lack of concentration
Altered sleep patterns / Exhaustion / Nightmares
Changes in appetite
With so many types of symptoms, it is important to remember that trauma comes in all shapes and sizes. It can look big, small, obvious, or discreet. It can be personal or show up in your relationships. Most importantly, trauma can affect every person in a unique way. Because of this, the care we seek to heal from our trauma should be just as unique as the trauma itself.
Trauma-informed therapy helps us to receive the incredible benefits of therapy while taking into account and normalizing the cognitive, emotional, physical, and behavioral effects of our trauma histories. Trauma-informed therapists make it a priority to avoid re-traumatizing or triggering their clients in any way. Additionally, trauma counseling takes a holistic approach to therapy that inspires hope, resilience, and well-being.
Principles of Trauma-Informed Therapy
When seeking professional help, you may find it difficult to determine which type of therapy to choose when there are so many! However, through an exploration of the principles of trauma-informed treatment, it is easy to see why trauma-informed therapy may be the right choice for anyone who is struggling with difficult emotions. Trauma-informed therapists seek to promote safety, trust, collaboration, support/empowerment, and multicultural considerations.
The therapist will create an environment of physical and emotional safety in the therapy space. Your comfort and privacy will be valued and respected at all times. Trauma-informed counselors know that everyone may experience safety in different ways, and they will explore this with you to ensure your well-being.
The therapist will be consistent and will respect personal and professional boundaries. They know that some of your experiences might make trusting others difficult. With this in mind, they will be sure to create a reliable environment for you to thrive in.
The therapist will work directly with you and involve you in your own treatment. They will check in with you about your goals and progress, and they will keep your trauma in mind throughout your work together. They will work at a pace that is comfortable for you. Trauma-informed therapists believe that you share an equal amount of power in the therapy room and that there is no better expert of your experiences than yourself!
Support and Empowerment
The counselor will work to validate and affirm your experiences. They will help you to see yourself as a whole person with many strengths, even when you doubt yourself or your abilities. A trauma-informed therapist believes that you are not the product of your trauma and will promote resilience and growth by helping you understand the impact of your trauma on your everyday life.
Trauma-informed therapists believe that all parts of your life give context and meaning to your experiences. They will help you explore how your life has been shaped by your multifaceted identities and give space to your unique needs.
Who Can Benefit from Trauma-Informed Therapy?
Whether you have experienced a one-time trauma, multiple traumas, or are living with difficult thoughts or feelings of any kind, trauma-informed therapy might be the right choice for you. Even if you don’t consider yourself to have experienced a major trauma or are unsure whether your unique experiences qualify as “traumatic,” trauma-informed therapists can help you to
Feel safe, supported, and empowered.
Understand and process your emotions.
Explore your experiences and their impact on your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Develop positive and healthy coping skills.
Although there are many types of therapies, below are a few examples of trauma-informed treatments that may benefit you on your therapeutic journey.
Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP)
We all go through challenging times and might feel alone or hopeless in processing our difficult emotions. AEDP therapists believe that every person has a natural capacity to transform, grow, and heal from our traumatic memories. They use relational techniques to help undo your aloneness, to build feelings of emotional safety and trust, and to encourage you to flourish in your everyday life.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
Often, our trauma is stored in our brains and bodies in ways that prevent us from properly addressing or processing it, creating a block. EMDR is a unique type of structured therapy that targets trauma specifically. It helps you remove the block and heal from your trauma through the use of Bilateral Simulation. The therapist will guide you through using eye movements, sounds, or physical sensations in order to reprocess traumatic memories together with them in a safe space.
Group therapy can be a great addition to individual therapy during your therapeutic journey! In the trauma-informed group environment, you will feel heard and validated, will build self-confidence, and will have the ability to connect and process with others who are struggling with similar issues. Group therapy is collaborative and will allow you to learn from others while also normalizing your unique experiences and symptoms that may stem from your trauma history.
Trauma and its impact on your daily functioning can be complicated, intense, distressing, and confusing. No matter what you have gone through, how big or small your trauma is, or the difficult thoughts, emotions, or behaviors you are experiencing, remember that you are not alone! You deserve to live an empowered life, and therapy might be a good place to start. There are various therapeutic options available for you to explore, and trauma-informed therapy could be the right fit for you! What will be your next steps on your path to healing?
Are you interested in trying trauma-informed therapy? Learn more about trauma treatment at myTherapyNYC!
Can you recall an experience shared with another (inside or outside therapy) that was positively transformative for you? Join the conversation in the comments below!