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Unresolved trauma can affect your life in significant ways. The wounds you carry from having witnessed or experienced a traumatic event run deep, and play out in your relationships and at the workplace. The scars from trauma impact your health, your mental health, and your confidence.
Trauma counseling is tailored to address both the effects of the trauma and the residual issues that are adversely impacting your life. To learn how trauma counseling can benefit you, read on.
What is Trauma?
Trauma reflects the mental state that follows witnessing an unexpected and intensely disturbing event. A trauma victim feels they are in imminent danger, or feel out of control of the situation. Being a victim of a trauma, or even witnessing another person’s pain and suffering, can leave deep emotional scars.
Examples of traumatic events include:
- Sexual assault.
- Physical assault.
- Witnessing violence, murder, or suicide.
- Natural disaster.
- Effects of military combat, emergency services, or police duty.
- Serious injury or illness.
- Sudden death of a loved one.
- Serious car accident.
When faced with a disturbing event, the body goes into the fight or flight response. This is when the brain receives the emotional input of present danger and emits the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Most people will resolve the effects of the acute trauma, but others experience more prolonged effects.
What is PTSD?
When trauma is still causing distress and even impairment in functioning after one month, it is called post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. The emotional scars cause the person to dwell on the trauma, even months or years later, which causes many adverse symptoms.
Symptoms of PTSD fall into four categories:
- Intrusive memories. Unwanted thoughts of the trauma are repeatedly present through flashbacks, vivid memories, or nightmares.
- Avoidance. To avoid being triggered, someone with PTSD will avoid the people, situations, or places that might cause the disturbing memories to surface. They will also avoid discussing the trauma at all costs.
- Hyper-arousal. The person will be jumpy, irritable, quick to anger, and easily frightened or startled. Mood swings are also common.
- Negative thoughts. People with PTSD may seem hopeless and negative, and talk down about themselves. Emotions like such as anger, guilt, shame, and fear. This often causes friction in relationships.
People with PTSD are prone to use alcohol or drugs to self-medicate the negative emotions that they experience. This can lead to a comorbid substance use disorder.
Outpatient vs. Inpatient Trauma Counseling
When it’s time to seek help for the effects of trauma, there are two types of treatment settings available. Outpatient trauma counseling is provided through your private practice mental health professional. Some outpatient mental health programs offer higher levels of care, like an IOP, with nine hours of therapy per week.
Inpatient trauma counseling provides an extended program where the patient resides at the inpatient center for more support and care. These inpatient programs allow the person to focus all their attention and energy on overcoming the effects of the trauma.
Both of these treatment settings offer psychotherapy, medication, group support, and other treatment activities.
Types of Trauma Counseling
A mental health provider is tasked with first evaluating your mental health and presenting symptoms and then designing a treatment program. They access a whole host of trauma-related psychotherapies to select the ones that best align with your unique diagnosis.
Trauma therapies include:
- TFCBT. TFCBT is a type of CBT that is designed to help patients overcome trauma, reshaping thoughts linked with the trauma. The therapist guides the patient in sharing about the trauma and expressing their feelings about it. The patient is then shown how the memories of the event have led to withdrawal, guilt, loneliness, and anxiety. By learning to reframe the thoughts in a healthier light, the trauma loses its power.
- Psychodynamic Therapy. This is a longer-term therapy that delves into childhood experiences, including any history of trauma. The insights gained can help the person resolve the past traumas and move forward, and also improve current dysfunctional relationships.
- Exposure Therapy. This is a short-term therapy that helps patients become less sensitive to the memories or triggers related to the trauma. Discussing the event while being gradually exposed to the triggers reduces the impact of the trauma over time. This helps the patient overcome avoidance behaviors they may have acquired after the trauma.
- EMDR. EMDR is a type of therapy that helps trauma patients by slowly desensitizing them to the memories of the trauma. During the EMDR sessions, the patient shares about the trauma while the clinician has them track an object with their eyes. The back-and-forth motion of the finger or object slowly reduces the impact of the trauma.
- TMS. TMS is a brain stimulating therapy that helps speed up the brain neurons through a 4-6 week treatment program. TMS has been shown to help those with PTSD.
- Neurofeedback. Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback where the person’s brain wave patterns and activity can be modified through a computer software program. The software trains them to remain calm when thoughts of the trauma arise.
Inpatient Trauma Counseling Programs
Trauma affects each person in a different way. While some people bounce back soon after a disturbing event, others may have prolonged suffering. The effects of a trauma begin to adversely impact your daily life, your job, your marriage, and your kids. When this is the case, it is time to consider an inpatient trauma counseling program.
Inpatient treatment provides the time and space needed to address the trauma in a more intensive manner. You will engage in various psychotherapies daily, as well as holistic and experiential therapies. If you are struggling with a past trauma, please reach out for help today.
LifeSync Malibu Inpatient Trauma Treatment Center
LifeSync Malibu offers inpatient support for trauma victims within a serene coastal setting. Our caring team will guide you toward healing and a sense of feeling whole again. Please reach out to us today with any questions about our program.