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Trauma Therapy: What Is It?

group of men and women seated in a behavioral health session discussing trauma therapy and what is it

If you or a loved one has experienced trauma, getting professional support may be necessary for long-term recovery. Untreated trauma can facilitate a host of adverse outcomes, including troubled relationships, difficulty at work, and substance abuse. While such outcomes are distressing, the good news is that the mental health community has extensively studied trauma. Thus, effective therapies are available to help.

What is trauma therapy? Any style of therapy that acknowledges the prolonged effects distressing events can have on the nervous system may be trauma-informed. If you’re seeking trauma therapy treatment, especially as it relates to substance abuse, contact Ray Recovery today. We’re located in Hudson, Ohio, and our caring team is available at 888.598.6299 or by online message.

What Is Trauma and How Does It Happen?

Trauma is, at base, a nervous system response. During an event that causes a person’s fight-flight-freeze response to kick in, the nervous system enters a sympathetic state. This means blood pumps faster, digestion halts, pupils dilate, and other changes occur, preparing the body for extreme threat response.

Sadly, in trauma survivors, this escalated nervous system state, which can indeed facilitate survival in the short term, becomes ingrained. Thus, the individual may frequently become triggered and return to the flight-flight-freeze response uncontrollably when there is no actual threat. Clearly, being hypervigilant, feeling frozen, deeply afraid, or self-protectively aggressive is not adaptive as an everyday mode of being.

The causes of trauma are varied and go well beyond actual threats to life and limb. Certainly, war, natural disasters, physical assault, and sexual abuse can cause trauma. As time passes, however, more and more of the medical community asserts that trauma occurs across a broader experiential spectrum. For instance, in-person and cyberbullying have caused trauma among many young people. Likewise, generational trauma, in which legacies of mass injustices like slavery or holocausts pass through successive generations, is increasingly well-documented.

What Are Some Effective Trauma Therapy Services?

Trauma therapy, in one form or another, has existed for a long time. Beginning with the emergence of the term “shell shock” to refer to psychological distress experienced by soldiers after World War I, the medical community has had some awareness that harrowing events can leave a lasting mark. A few examples of trauma therapy services available today include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) – Widely practiced in the addiction recovery sector, CBT can be an excellent choice for trauma care. This is because it helps clients identify self-defeating and/or trauma-based cognitions and reframe them with more positive thoughts.
  • Exposure therapy – Within a safe and contained therapeutic setting, clients gradually face imagery, memories, or sensations that provoke trauma responses. In this way, they can begin to desensitize the aspects of daily life that have been bringing about trauma flashbacks. Notably, the therapy does not use any actually dangerous stimuli.
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR) – In this trauma therapy, clients receive bilateral stimulation, often from flashing lights. Simultaneously, they talk through a traumatic event with their therapist. After sessions, additional verbal processing occurs to make sure they gain some containment for the material they addressed. For many who receive it, EMDR works relatively quickly to reduce trauma symptoms. Its effectiveness comes from its ability to repair trauma-compromised communication between the right and left brain hemispheres.
  • Somatic therapies – When combined with talk therapy interventions, somatic, or body-based approaches can be incredibly effective in trauma work. Disciplines like yoga, dance, and meditation can help clients work through the “stuckness” or emotional paralysis that trauma often imparts.

Learn More About Quality Trauma Care and Substance Abuse Treatment at Ray Recovery

Get quality trauma-informed care at Ray Recovery. We offer a range of services primarily focused on addiction recovery, and our therapists are well-versed in how trauma and addiction intertwine. Call 888.598.6299 or reach out online to speak to a caring team member about services at our Ohio center.