Coping with Trauma
Trauma comes in many forms and many of us have faced some type of trauma during our lifetime. This can encompass a variety of different situations.
You may have been a victim of an accident that has left you with injuries or a significant illness or you may have lost someone very close to you.
Trauma comes in many forms and it is not something to be weighed down upon, it is something to work on. Everyone is going to process their personal experiences differently and our reactions will fall into a wide spectrum.
The best way to treat trauma is by understanding it.
Types of Trauma:
In order to understand how to treat trauma, it is important to learn what type of trauma you are dealing with.
This is a type of trauma that happens over and over again, this results in direct harm to yourself. The effects of complex trauma are difficult because they build as the trauma continues. The trauma usually happens during a specific time or during a specific setting. This can also include traumatic relationships, and trauma triggered by situational problems.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:
This is a type of trauma where a person who has been exposed to a specific event (causing mental or physical harm) reacts to thoughts or memories of the situation.
Developmental Trauma Disorder:This is a type of trauma that develops during the first three years of a child’s life. This is usually a direct result of neglect, significant abuse, or abandonment. This type of trauma interferes with a child’s psychological, cognitive, and neurological development and it can interfere with the child’s ability to bond to their caregiver.
What are the symptoms of Psychological Trauma?
Confusion, anxiety, fear
Shame, guilt, blame
Withdrawing from others
Feeling disconnected from others
What are the physical symptoms of Psychological Trauma?
Insomnia and Nightmares
Nausea & Headaches
Trauma therapy is not a mathematic formulation, it is something that your provider will make to specifically address your symptoms and needs. Mental health professionals are able to formulate a treatment plan that is specific to the trauma you are facing. There are many modalities that a therapist might use when developing a plan of action.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy:
This is a type of therapy where a therapist works with a person to become more aware of their thoughts and how to recognize when their thoughts are being associated with trauma. A therapist can help you develop skills to react to emotional triggers with empowerment and strength.
CBT is usually a short-term therapy option that will last anywhere from eight to twenty-five sessions, ranging on the person. Trauma leads to many negative feelings such as guilt, anger, and fear. It usually results in behaviors such as self-abuse, acting out, and depressive episodes. During your session with your psychologist, you will work on techniques that focus on modifying your distorted thinking and the negative thoughts associated with your particular trauma.
These sessions provide you with a secure and stable environment to cope with your past and how it is affecting you in the present. During these sessions, you might learn different coping skills such as deep relaxation, cognitive processing, trauma narratives, and safety development planning. In order to be successful in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, it is important to trust your therapist, as they will be guiding you through some of your most personal experiences. The overall goal of CBT is to decrease the negative behaviors that happen as an emotional response to things such as sexual abuse, physical abuse, loss, and violence.
EMDR Therapy is an incredible way to deal with personal trauma. EDMR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. This therapy is well known for its success in post-traumatic stress and trauma therapy. Post-traumatic stress disorder does not discriminate and it can be triggered by things such as military combat, assault, natural disasters, accidents, and loss.
People with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder often re-experience the symptoms that they felt during the event causing the trauma. EMDR is a way for your body to heal itself when someone is re-experiencing their trauma, they are unable to move forward with their healing. Their flashbacks and feelings of guilt are inhibiting them from moving forward, they are fighting the healing process. EDMR is an eight-phase process focused on specific time periods of a person’s life.
Phase One: This is where a therapist and an individual will work together to understand the trigger event in the trauma survivor's past. During this stage, your therapist will determine the best treatment plan for your trauma.
Phase Two: The therapist will start to teach you stress reduction techniques and walk you through imagery techniques that will help you cope with flashbacks and symptoms of PTSD when you are not with your therapist.
Phase Three through Six: This is when you and your therapist start to focus on your target trigger. You will identify the emotional and psychological response to your trauma, the visual imagery that happens when you think about the trauma, the negative beliefs that you associate with because of the trauma, and a positive belief you would like to have (replacing the negative beliefs). Your therapist will start to have you rate your negative beliefs while directing you through bilateral stimulation.
Phase Seven: This is what is considered the closure phase. During this phase, you will start to journal any of your negative or thoughts or emotions that are lingering. When you review this information with your therapist you and your therapist will go over self-calming techniques again.
Phase Eight: This is the last phase where you and your therapist will examine all of the progress you have made during your sessions.
Brain spotting: This is a type of therapy that allows your therapist to help you neurobiologically locate, focus, process, and release some of the symptoms that are out of reach from the mind and your expressive capacity. This type of approach looks at the body's ability to locate and heal itself by focusing on an activation point in the brain.
Guided Meditation: PTSD guided meditation can act as one of the first lines of defense for healing times of anxiety and trauma. Sometimes therapist focus on the end result rather than the journey. Guided meditation is a tool that therapist use to help those dealing with trauma, it is a good way to cope with the symptoms that are caused by trauma. Meditation can support the self-process of self-forgiveness, access to a safe space, and self-love.
Psychological trauma is something to have treated it is a response to something horrible and it is the bodies way of reacting to something bad. Treatment can help with your emotional issues as well as physical problems.
A good therapist will teach you the best way to cope with the trauma, your relationships, and self-esteem issues. The most important to remember when dealing with trauma and coping with the side effects of trauma is that you are never alone. Psychologist are there to help you come up with constructive ways to manage your stressors and triggers.
Call Dr. Clare Albright, Psy.D. Clinical Psychologist CA License PSY11660 at (949)454-0996 or go to