Harrowing events such as natural disasters, violence, abuse, serious illness, and even a global crisis such as a pandemic, can be devastating experiences. While some quickly recover from the experience, not everyone copes with distress the same. Others may suffer from mental issues like depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. In this instance, you may need the help of a trauma therapist to cope with distressing experiences.
Should You See a Trauma Therapist?
What is Trauma?
According to Integrated Listening, trauma is the response to a devastating event that overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope, causes feelings of helplessness, diminishes their sense of self, and their ability to feel a full range of emotions and experiences.
Trauma can express itself as emotional and psychological symptoms:
- Shock, denial, or disbelief
- Difficulty concentrating
- Irritability and mood swings
- Anxiety and fear
- Guilt and shame
- Withdrawing from others
Trauma may may also manifest as physical symptoms:
- Insomnia or nightmares
- Increased heart rate
- Aches and pains
- Muscle tension
- Nausea and dizziness
- Changes in appetite
- Weight loss or gain
Understandably, these symptoms can make one feel lost and out of control. Trauma can interfere with daily functioning, impair your ability to have happy relationships, and greatly decrease quality of life.
To manage these symptoms and process the emotional impact of the traumatic event for the long-term, you may need outside help. This is where trauma therapy comes in.
Who Qualifies as a Trauma Therapist?
According to an article from Psychology Today, a trauma therapist is a licensed mental health counselor, psychologist, or even social worker who has almost exclusive training and clinical experience in working directly with trauma.
Simply put, they are professionals who specialize in treating patients who have experienced trauma. They are experts and know and understand very well what trauma victims are going through and how best to help them overcome it.
Not all therapists are properly equipped to deal with people who have experienced trauma in their lives. They may possess general knowledge about trauma and perhaps basic skills and abilities in managing symptoms. But to fully treat trauma at its root, training in trauma therapy is needed.
What are the Benefits of Seeing a Trauma Therapist?
You may be wondering if it’s worth seeing a trauma therapist, or if you should just keep a stiff upper lip and stick it out on your own.
However, you deserve to have peace of mind, a support system, and a life free of the blame for events that were beyond your control. If these are things you struggle to achieve by yourself, there is no shame in asking for help in getting there.
Below are a few good things that a trauma therapist can do for you.
Reduce the symptoms of trauma
The aforementioned symptoms of trauma, such as sleep problems, muscle aches and tension, headaches, mood swings, and others can hamper day-to-day functioning. This can be very frustrating, leading to an inability to be productive or independent, strained relationships, and a decreased quality of life.
A trauma therapist can recommend techniques or lifestyle changes to minimize these symptoms so you can go about your day. Simple practices like meditation, journaling, exercise, and changes in your diet and sleep patterns can help ease symptoms of trauma.
This is in conjunction with the deep emotional work that you will do with your therapist to resolve the root cause of your trauma and make your symptoms disappear for the long-term.
Gain Healthier Coping Skills
Unresolved trauma may lead to negative coping mechanisms such as negative self-talk, self-blame, destructive behaviours, overeating or starving yourself, lashing out in anger, and being avoidant.
Rather than uplift you or help you heal, negative coping mechanisms often dishearten you further. They can make you feel worse about yourself, damage your relationships, or even give you less control over your life. However, they are tempting to give in to because they provide temporary relief from the pain of trauma.
Seeing a trauma therapist can help you form better habits. Together, you and your therapist delve into the real work of unpacking and processing your trauma. You will learn not to blame yourself for events you could not control, how to speak kindly to yourself when your symptoms come up, how to express anxiety, fear or sadness in healthy ways, and others.
In sum, learning healthier coping mechanisms allows you to acknowledge, process, and express emotional responses to your trauma in ways that will not cause more harm to you.
Overcome Addictions Brought About By Trauma
In some cases, people who have undergone traumatic experiences turn to drugs or alcohol to block out their symptoms. This compounds the effects of trauma with the effects of addiction.
Addiction alters the brain’s pathways, convincing the person that they need the drug or alcohol to get through a normal day. Stopping use of substances cold turkey may bring on withdrawal symptoms, which could be medically dangerous and eventually backfire, leading the person to become more dependent on the substance after an unpleasant withdrawal episode.
A trauma therapist who is also trained in substance abuse therapy may be needed. Your therapist will help you manage the stressors that led you to substance use, while also guiding you through a safe plan to wean yourself off an addictive substance.
What to Expect From Trauma Therapy Sessions
Depending on the treatment you will be undergoing, trauma therapy could last for three months or more. The sessions, though, will usually be short, around 60 to 90 minutes only, and will be done once or twice a week.
The success of the treatment will differ from one individual to another. But according to the American Psychological Association, 15 to 20 sessions, on the average, is needed for 50% of patients to recover from their traumas. Some will likely take longer, around 20 to 30 sessions, before they see an improvement or feel the effects of the treatment.
Seek a Helping Hand
It’s not easy to deal with a traumatic experience. It is something that can eat you inside and make you feel intense emotions that could lead to anxiety and depression. But you don’t have to deal with this issue on your own.
You can always seek the help of a trauma therapist to assist you in making sense of your experiences. If you live in the Redondo Beach area you can check out South Bay LA Therapy. We specialize in trauma therapy, substance abuse therapy, and other similar services.
Give us a call today.