Trauma is a series of one-time or repeated events that can have a profound impact on an individual’s life. It can take the form of physical injury, sexual violence, or death.
A trauma therapist is trained to help patients recover from traumatic experiences. They may use a variety of techniques, including art therapy and psychotherapy. Here are four techniques used in trauma therapy:
Prolonged Exposure (PE)
Prolonged Exposure (PE) is a technique used in trauma therapy that is proven to reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. It’s often recommended for people who have experienced trauma, such as a traumatic accident or assault, and who have PTSD.
PE involves gradual, safe exposure to stimuli that trigger fear or memories of the trauma. This helps the client to confront their fears, decreases anxiety and helps them feel more comfortable in the present.
Before you start a PE session, you and your therapist will make a list of things that remind you of the trauma. These may include places, objects, or people that you have avoided due to the trauma.
During each session, you and your therapist will gradually expose yourself to these reminders. This can involve going over the traumatic memory in person, in writing, or by visualizing it.
The goal of PE is to help you face these traumatic memories, which can be difficult and lead to feelings of disgust and anger. Your therapist will guide you through each step of the process, helping you to decrease your avoidance and replace it with healthy thinking.
You’ll also learn breathing exercises that will help you reduce your anxiety while exposed to traumatic memories and remind you that you’re not alone. These techniques are effective in helping you to overcome your PTSD and move forward with your life.
This technique is one of the best-established trauma treatments available and has received more evidence for its effectiveness than any other method of treatment. Practitioners throughout the world use PE to treat survivors of rape, assault, child abuse, combat, motor vehicle accidents, and natural disasters.
When choosing a therapist, look for one who is trained in PE. Generally speaking, psychologists and social workers are the most likely to have this training. They will have attended workshops or training courses and received specialized hands-on training in how to administer PE.
If you’re interested in learning more about the theoretical foundation and therapeutic techniques of Prolonged Exposure, you can access a website like PEWeb. This website provides detailed, step-by-step instructions in each of the core therapeutic techniques of PE along with easy-to-follow session scripts, forms, and handouts.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychological technique that’s used in trauma therapy to help reduce the impact of traumatic memories. It involves a series of phases, each focusing on a different aspect of the memory. This process helps you to identify and overcome negative emotions, thoughts, and body sensations associated with a traumatic event or life experience.
EMDR was originally developed by psychologist Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s. It uses rhythmic, left-right eye movements to change the way a traumatic memory is stored in your brain. The therapist guides you through the process, helping you recall specific memories and their impact on your everyday life.
The most common use of EMDR is for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but it can also be helpful for anxiety and depression. Studies have shown that EMDR is effective in helping people with PTSD feel calmer and less worried.
Although there’s some controversy about how EMDR works, it’s been found to be effective for many patients. It’s a fairly new therapy that was created by Shapiro after she accidentally discovered an eye-movement technique while walking through a park.
In theory, EMDR uses lateral eye movements to stimulate the brain’s innate investigatory reflex, which inhibits fear and permits exploratory behavior. It also triggers interhemispheric communication, which increases the brain’s ability to digest and store memories differently so that they don’t keep coming back.
However, research is still in its early stages, and no one knows for sure how EMDR works. Some researchers say that it’s simply exposure therapy with a superfluous addition of eye movement, while others think that the EMs are critical to the treatment’s effectiveness.
EMDR is an effective treatment for PTSD, and it usually takes about six to eight sessions. It can be done in person or online with a therapist who’s trained to use EMDR.
EMDR is a type of psychotherapy that combines multiple techniques to maximize its effects. The therapist uses a combination of affect management, cognitive behavioral techniques, and eye movements to help you work through the emotional aspects of your trauma. This combines elements of several different forms of therapy, which makes it a unique approach to trauma therapy.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most widely used techniques in trauma therapy. It’s a form of talk therapy that’s designed to address mental health disorders, including anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
In CBT, your therapist will first work with you to identify any negative or inaccurate thoughts and beliefs that may be contributing to your distress. You can then challenge these thoughts and beliefs by learning new, more realistic thinking patterns.
Your therapist will also help you learn skills to change the behaviors that are causing your distress. For example, if you often avoid certain situations because of your trauma, your therapist will work with you to learn how to reframe these situations in a way that doesn’t trigger your distress.
For people with PTSD, the goal of CBT is to improve how you think about and react to stressful situations. In order to do this, your therapist will ask you questions about how your traumatic experience has affected your thoughts and emotions.
A therapist might also ask you about your family history to gain a better understanding of your entire situation. This is important for your therapist to know so that they can provide you with the best possible treatment.
If you are considering using CBT to treat your PTSD, it’s important to choose a therapist who is experienced in this kind of therapy. Your therapist will be able to offer you personalized treatment and help you develop the skills you need for lasting healing.
To find a CBT therapist in your area, you can do an online search or talk with your physician about your options. Some insurance companies will cover therapy sessions for a certain number of weeks or months.
Once you’ve found a therapist, your next step is to schedule your sessions. Be sure to set a date and time that works for you. Having a regular therapy schedule will help you stay focused on the goals of your session. You can even set a reminder on your calendar to keep yourself on track.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
ACT focuses on helping people develop “psychological flexibility” by accepting and making room for unpleasant experiences. It is based on the belief that most psychological problems arise from attempts to control or avoid difficult feelings and thoughts. ACT is effective for a variety of disorders, and it can also be used as a treatment for life challenges or general dissatisfaction.
In ACT, clients work to set goals that align with their personal values and commit to taking action toward them. For example, a client might set a goal to share one feeling with a close friend each day.
These goals can be challenging and intimidating at first, but ACT therapy can help clients identify small steps that they can build on. For instance, if a client’s core value is being financially secure, they might start by setting a goal of finding and applying to three new jobs each month.
The therapist might also help the client practice engaging in experiences that they might feel uncomfortable with, such as sitting with feelings of fear or anxiety. This can be done by encouraging the client to explore the specific sensations they’re experiencing and to give themselves permission to be curious about them.
Another ACT technique is to use metaphors. These can be useful for helping clients learn to describe and understand their experiences in a more empathetic way. Some examples of these metaphors include the following:
To get more familiar with ACT, you can read The Big Book of Metaphors: A Practitioner’s Guide to Experiential Exercises and Metaphors in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy by Jill Stoddard, Niloofar Afari, and Steven C. Hayes, or watch some of the ACT metaphor videos on YouTube.
ACT has shown success with clients suffering from depression, anxiety, trauma, and personality disorders. It can also be effective for clients who want to improve their relationships with others and make more positive life choices. In addition, ACT has been found to be effective in treating chronic pain and PTSD in cancer patients.