Trauma can have a lasting impact on various aspects of your life, but recovery is possible.
Treatments enhanced for trauma can be particularly effective, helping you to reprocess your past experiences and reframe them so they no longer have such a negative hold over your life.
The imprint that traumatic experiences can leave on your mind and body can be profound, some of which may present immediately after something difficult happens or many years later.
Everyone conceptualises trauma differently, but the impact these experiences can leave behind may affect your sense of self, perceptions, mood, and relationships.
Research shows that trauma can also disrupt your sense of safety, adversely impacting how you see the world and those around you.
Traumatic experiences can create significant changes in the brain and the nervous system.
Fortunately, trauma treatments adopting a nervous-system-informed approach can help soothe these imbalances, allowing traumatic memories to metabolise and reprocess, helping to cultivate mind and body healing.
There are no absolutes when it comes to trauma therapy since each person will respond differently to treatment.
However, the most effective treatment plan is one that takes an integrated approach, focusing on your needs, preferences, trauma history, and long-term recovery goals.
This article explores the four most common evidence-based treatments for trauma.
Trauma treatment at White River Manor
At White River Manor, we treat and diagnose various types of trauma, providing a personalised approach to your treatment and recovery.
Our trauma treatment programs include the following:
- EMDR (eye movement desensitisation reprocessing)
- Trauma-specific therapy
- Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT)
- Trauma treatment
- Music and art therapy
Contact our recovery centre in South Africa today to learn more about our therapeutic services.
Four common evidence-based treatments for trauma
There are various types of evidence-based treatments for PTSD and trauma.
These treatments are proven to be effective in various populations, including individuals with a strong history of trauma.
The four most common evidence-based trauma treatments include the following:
1. EMDR (eye movement desensitisation reprocessing) therapy
Developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro in 1987, EMDR is an effective therapy for overcoming trauma and various other mental health issues, including:
- Various types of addiction
- Dissociative disorders
- Personality disorders
- Chronic pain
What does EMDR involve?
EMDR involves guided side-to-side eye movements, tapping, and other techniques that can help process traumatic memories, reducing their emotional impact.
During a crisis, it can be challenging for an individual to fully process what is happening in their environment. For instance, someone may be too overwhelmed or shocked to take in their surroundings.
When this happens, the memory of the event may become “stuck”, meaning that it remains vivid and intense.
The individual may experience a range of unpleasant trauma symptoms, including re-experiencing, where they constantly relive the distressing event in their mind as if it were happening again.
EMDR helps the brain to release traumatic memories, allowing them to “unstick” and reprocess effectively so that they no longer feel so intense and distressing.
Moreover, this treatment can help desensitise you to the emotional impact of a specific memory so that you can think about the event without experiencing such a strong response.
EMDR helps reduce trauma symptoms over time by helping you to create space between yourself and a specific memory or event, allowing you to remember it in a more empowering, manageable way.
Click here to learn more about our EMDR treatment program and begin your journey to lasting wellness and recovery.
2. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
CBT can help you explore and change any thought and behavioural patterns associated with your trauma.
It is a talk therapy that combines cognitive therapy (examining how you think) with behaviour therapy (analysing your behaviour).
CBT is based on the fundamental principle that our emotions, thoughts, and behaviours are all connected, meaning that if we can change unhelpful thought patterns, we can also change how we behave, leading to increased positive feelings and healthier behaviours.
CBT is a highly recommended treatment for trauma and PTSD as it targets current symptoms and issues, focusing on changing behaviour patterns, thoughts and feelings that lead to problems with functioning.
Therapists employ diverse strategies and techniques to help alleviate their client’s symptoms and enhance overall functioning and well-being.
CBT practitioners encourage individuals to reassess their thought patterns and identify unhelpful distortions such as overgeneralisation, negative thinking that overshadows positive aspects, and anticipating catastrophic outcomes.
Cognitive behavioural therapy encourages you to shift towards more balanced and effective thinking patterns, cultivating a revised understanding of your traumatic experiences, sense of self, and coping abilities.
3. Trauma-focused cognitive behaviour therapy (TF-CBT)
Trauma-focused cognitive behaviour therapy (TF-CBT) addresses the mental health needs of children, adolescents, and families suffering from the destructive effects of early trauma. (Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Psychology Today.)
Psychiatrist Judith Cohen (and colleagues) originally developed TF-CBT to help young children and adolescents who had experienced sexual abuse.
Although the original goal was to treat young children, TF-CBT is also effective for those who have experienced physical abuse and individuals dealing with grief.
CBT techniques are used in TF-CBT to help modify maladjusted thought and behavioural patterns that are associated with a person’s traumatic experiences.
Challenging unhelpful thoughts, including anger, guilt or fear, can help individuals understand their thoughts better and manage their perceptions and responses in a healthier, more manageable way.
4. Somatic experiencing
SE focuses on your body’s physical sensations and how your nervous system responds to traumatic events or experiences.
During treatment, your therapist gently encourages you to gradually explore and release stored tension and energy associated with a traumatic memory or experience.
This allows your nervous system to complete its natural self-regulation process by paying attention to specific bodily sensations.
Unlike other types of treatment that focus on thoughts, feelings and behaviour, SE’s main goal involves bringing full awareness to how your physical body feels, including:
- Concentrating on your muscles and how relaxed or tight they feel
- Feeling different parts of your body, such as your organs, joints and bones
- Being aware of your breathing patterns
Somatic experiencing operates on the principle that traumatic memories may become lodged in the physical body, causing unpleasant trauma symptoms even after the immediate danger or threat has subsided.
This approach posits that enhanced awareness of bodily sensations encourages the processing and release of these traumatic memories, thus alleviating trauma symptoms.
Other effective trauma treatments
As well as the above, there are various other effective treatments for trauma, including:
- Internal family systems therapy
- Prolonged exposure therapy
- Narrative therapy
- Art and music therapy
- Inner child work
- Trauma systems therapy
Trauma symptoms affect each person differently, and what one person deems as traumatic, another may not.
However, typically, someone who has gone through something traumatic may experience the following symptoms:
- Reliving – including nightmares, flashbacks or hallucinations of the traumatic incident
- Excessive arousal, which may include bouts of anger, irritability, increased alertness, and problems sleeping or concentrating
- Negative or upsetting thoughts, including anger, shame or guilt
- Feeling unsafe in your environment. For instance, places or situations that once felt safe now feel frightening or threatening, particularly if they remind you of the traumatic event
- Avoidance behaviours
- Unhealthy coping behaviours to deal with difficult symptoms, thoughts, or memories related to your trauma. For example, you may use substances like drugs or alcohol to cope with or numb any upsetting thoughts and feelings
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of trauma, you must speak to a mental health professional who can assess you and recommend a treatment plan based on your symptoms and history.
Trauma doesn’t have to dictate your life or your future, there are ways you can overcome your traumatic experiences and restore peace, wholeness and empowerment in your life.
With proper treatment, care and support, you can learn to manage your symptoms and reframe how you view your experiences, enabling you to move toward acceptance and resilience, releasing you from the shackles of the past.
How White River Manor can help
At White River Manor, we offer individualised trauma treatment programs and luxury individual care to clients in South Africa and surrounding regions.
Our team of highly qualified therapists, medical professionals, and dependency specialists work to design a personalised program to restore balance and well-being in your life.
If you would like to talk to us about our trauma- treatment programs and how we can help you recover, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our intake team.
We are here and ready to help!