What is Trauma-Informed Care? Thumbnail

Trauma informed care helps individuals move past their trauma with interventions that allow for lifelong success managing their thoughts.

Trauma can significantly affect how a person engages in major life areas as well as how they respond to treatment.

What is Trauma-Informed Care?

You may have heard this word before, so what does it mean? Trauma-informed care means that your therapist is aware that trauma may impact the lens through which you look to understand the world around you. Using key trauma-informed principles, our therapists integrate trauma-related prevention, intervention, and strategies during your therapy.

People who have experienced repeated, chronic, or multiple traumas are more likely to experience symptoms and consequences, including disruption of daily routines, disruption of activities, substance misuse, depressed mood, impulsivity, sleep disruptions, intrusive memories, and a sense of detachment. Trauma can significantly affect how a person engages in major life areas as well as how they respond to treatment.

How does trauma therapy work?

Also referred to as talk therapy, psychotherapy is most commonly used to treat trauma. In this form of treatment, mental health professionals guide patients as they talk about their problems, trauma-related memories, and thoughts in order to help with a broad range of mental illnesses and emotional difficulties. The goal of talk therapy is to eliminate or manage symptoms as well as improve a patient's healing and emotional well-being.

Treatment sessions typically take place one-on-one, but can also occur in a group setting. Mental health professionals can conduct trauma treatment online or in person. While both settings are highly effective, online trauma therapy can sometimes be more comfortable for individuals who have trouble leaving their house or find it difficult to open up to a new therapist. Individuals receiving trauma treatment online also benefit from greater convenience with appointment scheduling and a wider selection of providers.

What are the benefits of trauma therapy?

The benefits of trauma therapy go beyond reducing uncomfortable feelings and physical symptoms associated with trauma. Trauma therapy enables you to understand traumatic events and the emotions related to them. In a safe and non-judgemental setting, individuals can face their fears and learn helpful coping skills for everyday life.

Another benefit of trauma therapy is reestablishing your feelings of security. Experiencing trauma can leave you feeling violated and threaten your sense of safety. In addition to physical violations, they can also be emotional, psychological, and relational. As a result, you may find it difficult to trust others and feel more vulnerable to danger. Trauma-focused therapies can help you rebuild your confidence and restore feelings of security.

Finally, both in-person and online trauma therapy can help enhance your sense of self. Trauma can lead to low self-esteem, depression, and shame that affect how you perceive yourself. As you process your trauma and understand your experiences, your perceptions of yourself and your trauma will change. Trauma therapy can help you restore your sense of empowerment and restore meaning to your life.

What are the different types of trauma therapy?

Various types of trauma therapy are available for treating trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A mental health professional may use the following techniques to help you heal from trauma-related issues.

  • Prolonged exposure (PE): In this form of therapy, a therapist will gradually expose you to the source of your fear until your reactions are reduced or eliminated.
  • Cognitive processing therapy (CPT): CPT involves challenging how you view the traumatic event and the beliefs and thoughts associated with it. This technique can be used in an individual or group setting.
  • Trauma-focused cognitive behavior therapy (TF-CBT): Children and adolescents often benefit from this type of therapy. It can assist in addressing inaccurate beliefs and unhealthy behaviors.
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR): This treatment involves rhythmic bilateral stimulation, such as eye movement, taps, or sounds, to help release traumatized emotions and heal the brain.

Is trauma uncommon?

Unfortunately, no, it is normal to experience traumatic events across our lifespans; often, individuals, families, and communities respond to them with resilience. The good news…. According to extensive research traumatic experiences typically do not result in long-term impairment for most individuals.

What are the symptoms of trauma?

Every individual responds differently to trauma, experiencing a wide range of physical and emotional reactions. The way you think, feel, or respond is your own, and it's important not to judge your reactions based on others. While trauma is a deeply personal experience, the following symptoms of trauma are common:

  • Shock or denial
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feelings of sadness, anxiety, anger, irritability, and/or fear
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Feelings of guilt, shame, or self-blame
  • Isolation from others
  • Feeling numb or disconnected
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Fatigue
  • Being startled easily
  • Edginess and agitation
  • Aches and muscle pains

What trauma-related issues tend to be the most common?

That really depends. The best way to answer that question is to understand the types of traumas a person could possibly experience within their lifetime.

  • Combat or war zone exposure
  • Serious medical events
  • Seeing death or dead bodies, including while at work
  • Unexpected death of a loved one
  • Natural disasters
  • Arson or house fires
  • Torture
  • Domestic violence
  • Witnessing or experiencing violence, such as a homicide or suicide
  • Terrorism or mass violence

1. Caused Naturally aka "Acts of God"

Some examples of these types of traumas include: Tornados, Hurricanes, Famine, Epidemics, Wildfires

2. The second type of trauma is caused by people either accidental or intentional.

Accidental examples include events like Oil Spills, Car accidents due to malfunction (or due to drunk drivers or negligence), structural collapses, etc. Whereas examples of Intentional Acts include events like Terrorism, Homicides, Suicides, Domestic Violence, Warfare, School Violence, physical abuse, etc.

What’s the impact or difference between the two?

Human-caused traumas are fundamentally different from natural disasters. They are either intentional, such as a domestic violence incident, or unintentional, such as a structural collapse. How a person or community will respond to these traumas often depend on their intentionality. Survivors of an unintentionally human-caused traumatic event may feel angry and frustrated because of the lack of protection or care offered by the responsible party.

Whereas, intentional human-caused acts, survivors often struggle to understand the motives of the perpetrator, the calculated or random nature of the act, and the psychological makeup of the person or group intentionally engaging in this behavior.

How do we know if the trauma we witnessed or experienced will develop into a trauma- and or stress-related disorder?

That depends. It is important that we recognize the context of the trauma like where it occurred, how the community responded, and how the person was supported. Context can have a significant impact on whether (and how) people experience shame as a result of the trauma, the kinds of support and compassion they receive, whether their experiences are normalized or diminished by others, and even the kinds of services they are offered to help them recover and cope.

Keep in mind that trauma often accompanies stressful situations like being bombarded with many things at one time, without sufficient time or ability to address them emotionally, cognitively, spiritually, and/or physically. Rapid exposure to numerous traumas one after another lessens one’s ability to process the event before the next attack.

Trauma itself can create significant distress, but often, the losses associated with a trauma have more far-reaching effects. The number of losses can greatly influence an individual’s ability to bounce back from the tragedy.

Survivors’ beliefs and assumptions of the event also contribute to how they process, react to, cope with, and recover from the trauma.

How does individual trauma impact a person?

An individual trauma refers to an event that only occurs to one person. It can be a single event (e.g., sexual assault, physical attack, work-related physical injury) or multiple or prolonged events (e.g., a life-threatening illness, multiple physical assaults).

Survivors of individual trauma may not receive the support and concern that members of collectively traumatized groups and communities receive. They are less likely to reveal their traumas or to receive validation of their experiences.

Shame is a common feeling or thought that coincides with trauma and it can distort the survivor’s perception of responsibility for the event. Some survivors of individual traumas, especially those who have kept the trauma a secret, may not receive needed comfort and acceptance from others.

They are also are more likely to struggle with issues of causation (e.g., a young woman may feel unduly responsible for a sexual assault), to feel isolated by the trauma, and to experience repeated trauma that makes them feel victimized. Therapy can be critical for the survivor's mental and physical health. Knowing they have a safe space to share, process, and discuss the impact of the event on their lives.

When is it time to seek professional help?

Recovering from trauma is a process, and everyone heals differently. However, if months have passed and your symptoms have not subsided, you may need professional assistance.

Trauma treatment is recommended if you are:

  • Performing poorly at work or school
  • Unable to perform house duties or take care of yourself
  • Suffering from overwhelming feelings of sadness, fear, anxiety, or anger
  • Struggling with relationships
  • Experiencing frightening flashbacks or nightmares
  • Avoiding places, people, or things that remind you of the trauma
  • Feeling emotionally numb or hopeless
  • Using alcohol or drugs to feel better
  • Having thoughts of harming yourself or others

Healing from trauma can be frightening, painful, and potentially re-traumatizing, which is why it's often best to seek professional help from a trauma-informed therapist. Working with the right therapist can help you recover trauma-related symptoms and gain the confidence to move forward in life.

CHE Behavioral Health Services provides comprehensive treatment options for people experiencing trauma. With a network of over 900 experienced mental health providers, we provide individualized treatment programs designed to meet your needs.

For more information about grief and treatment options offered by CHE Behavioral Health Services, please call 888-515-3834. We are ready to talk, and ready to listen

Dr. Larkin Hoyt- Clinical Director of CHE