What to Expect from Trauma Therapy

Trauma

Traumatic events seemingly come out of nowhere and leave you feeling distressed, shocked, or completely disoriented. If you’ve experienced an accident, illness, disaster, assault, or abuse, you can benefit from visiting a Redondo Beach trauma therapy center to meet with a trauma therapist.

The reality is that trauma can impact our daily lives, even if we’re not aware of it. Of course, meeting with a trauma therapist might seem intimidating to some.

To ensure that you’re able willing to get help, here is what you can expect from Redondo Beach trauma therapy.

How Trauma Therapy Works

What is Trauma?

Trauma isn’t just a fancy word people say to mean that they are angry or hurt by something. Trauma makes physical changes to our brains and their pathways.

Trauma leads to hyperarousal, meaning that your brain can become overactive in response to a perceived danger. In turn, this response can cause you to become hypervigilant and on alert, even when the danger isn’t truly present.

For example, most people are aware of the fight or flight response to danger. That means you have both an emotional and physical response to a particular trigger.

After trauma occurs, neurons within the brain can actually die. This can lead to the degradation of neuro-pathways.

After a few days, new synapses and neurons form to replace the ones that died. As new pathways are created, the brain changes.

These new pathways can make overactive responses to stress the default reaction of your body to perceived threats. Over time, this may cause major issues like increased levels of anxiety, personality changes, heart disorders, chronic pain, and more.

You may not even realize that you’re experiencing the effects of a traumatic event as they develop. And if you are unable to identify what is changing in your body, it may make it more difficult to figure out how to heal from it. This is where working with a skilled trauma therapist comes into play.

Types of Trauma Therapy

Trauma therapy is a term that describes an overarching approach to help patients understand how traumatic experiences impact their lives. The end goal is to achieve post-traumatic growth, which is the ability to process their emotions and memories tied to their trauma and create a healthier response.

Trauma therapy is a lot like you’d expect: you’ll meet with a therapist who will listen and support you while providing the necessary feedback to help you. The therapist may use a variety of methods to help you along the way.

These methods all have the same goal, but can be useful in different ways and for a variety of personalities. You and your therapist might try a few methods at first, but you’ll eventually land on one that works best for you.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a well-known form of psychological therapy that is especially effective for treating psychological trauma. 

This form of treatment focuses on the idea that how we feel and act is directly linked to what we think. We can change our behaviors and feelings by paying closer attention to our thoughts.

Essentially, CBT works to help patients think differently about their traumatic experiences to develop new meanings. This kind of treatment is usually conducted in 8 to 12 sessions over a couple of months.

You can expect to confront scary situations and challenge anxious thoughts, but rest assured you’ll be doing so within a safe environment. These confrontations typically happen through mental exercises, letter writing, etc.

Unlike exposure therapy, CBT typically works in the hypothetical field via discussion and imagination. Diary keeping is also a popular technique used in CBT.

Exposure

When we experience trauma, we sometimes develop a fear of a specific situation that brought on the trauma. In an effort to avoid triggering the symptoms, we may find ourselves abstaining from those specific situations.

However, the more one avoids something, the more difficult it is to deal with and overcome that fear. Avoidance is also only a Band-aid solution; it doesn’t heal the trauma and causes problems when we are no longer unable to sidestep a situation.

Exposure therapy is often used as a safe way to confront one’s fears. Depending on the strategy you and your therapist decide, exposure can happen gradually or can take place in a rapid manner.

For instance, you may be suffering from trauma brought about by an accident on a bus. A therapist may ask you to imagine going to the bus stop, then actually being on the bus. Later on you can work your way to physically going to a bus stop, sitting on a parked bus, then ultimately, riding the bus again. 

At each phase, your therapist will help you pick apart your feelings and understand where your fear of the situation is coming from. 

Medication

When patients suffer from anxiety, panic attacks, or low moods, they might be given medication along with their counseling sessions. Medications don’t necessarily erase traumatic experiences, but they can make it easier to talk therapy to do its job.

While it’s best to be faithful to your medication regimen, the medication should be considered more of a supportive treatment than as the primary treatment. It’s critical that patients only use medication that is prescribed by a licensed physician or therapist.

Use all medications as instructed and consult with your mental health care provider with any questions or concerns you may have. Your therapist will ensure that you use medication safely and that your treatment properly supports your therapy.  

Imagery Rescripting

Some therapy techniques are meant to deal with upsetting memories. Imagery rescripting aims to help patients think of their memories as ghosts from the past. Your therapist will encourage and help you transform your memories into something more visual so that they lose power.

A therapist, for example, may ask you to imagine your upsetting memories as a movie being played on a TV. You may then be instructed to make the image on the TV screen smaller, dimmer, fuzzier, etc. You may even be asked to simply turn off the TV.

Imagining these memories in these creative ways is a proven technique to reduce the impact that these memories have on you.

The Importance of Talking It Out

Ultimately, you can expect to take part in meaningful conversations with your Redondo Beach trauma therapist counselor. Your counselor will ask questions, make suggestions, or lead you through exercises, but they won’t just tell you what to think or do.

It can take a few sessions to feel entirely comfortable with your therapist. Through it all, it’s important to remember that your conversations are confidential and take place without judgment. 

While your trauma therapy sessions may not involve the stereotypical troupe of lying on a couch talking about your feelings, the goal is to make sure you are as comfortable as possible.

The counselors at South Bay LA Therapy aren’t just trained to help patients deal with their traumatic experiences. They also care about what you’ve been through and want to help you move past your traumatic past into a healthy future. 

If you’re after customized therapy and counseling to help you find the healing that you need, book an appointment with South Bay LA Therapy today.

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