Trauma therapy has received increasing interest over the past several years, and many behavioral health specialists are scrambling to meet the needs of their patients in this area. The recent COVID-19 epidemic has caused many people to seek trauma therapy health services for themselves and their family members.
However, not all trauma therapy is the same. There are multiple types of therapies, and not all are ideal for every person or every situation. Understanding the basic differences between these types of trauma therapies will allow clients seeking help with Positive Reset Mental Health Clinic to know what to ask for and what to avoid.
1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy is the first type of talk therapy people consider. While it’s portrayed in the media as laying on a couch while talking about problems, there’s a lot more to this type of therapy.
During CBT, a trained professional psychologist will examine their client’s thought patterns and how those patterns influence their life choices and behaviors. Over multiple sessions, this method helps clients determine how some of their thoughts and behaviors have been incorrect or unhelpful.
CBT has been around for many years, and it was one of the earliest therapy used for trauma victims. Its original intention was not to alleviate trauma. However, it was not specifically designed with trauma victims in mind. The process can be very time-consuming, with many patients visiting a therapist on a weekly basis, sometimes over the course of many years. While many therapists offer CBT, looking for a therapist who has had specific training in trauma victims may be beneficial.
2. Exposure Therapy
Exposure therapy is a more recent type of trauma therapy that is still controversial in some circles. For many years, experts believed that the best way to treat trauma was to have patients avoid situations, people, or things that triggered adverse reactions, then deal with eliminating the things on that list of “banned” places and people through CBT. Exposure therapy, however, presented the idea that allowing the patient to interact with their triggers in a controlled environment could be a good way for them to develop coping strategies on their own.
Exposure therapy is not simply confronting a patient with a person or object that causes an adverse reaction. Doing this causes a patient to regress with their treatment. Instead, exposure therapy uses elements of CBT to prepare a patient for their experience, presenting the object of their fear in a controlled environment with trained medical staff.
3. Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET)
In some cases, a patient can’t be directly confronted with the source of their trauma. For example, while it can be relatively easy to introduce a patient into a controlled room with a dog to get them over a fear of canines, it is a lot harder to expose them to trauma sources such as war zones or a sexual assault experience.
Therefore, Narrative Exposure Therapy focuses on the experiences that a trauma victim has carried with them. The basic tenant of this type of therapy is that a person’s life experiences and mental well-being depend a lot on the narrative of these experiences that each person has created. The focus is not on ignoring or “burying” a traumatic event but on helping a client develop a more positive life story. The goal is to contextualize a traumatic event so the client can view it as an experience that helped shape who they are today.
4. Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)
Patients who have PTSD due toa traumatic event have been clinically shown to make a lot of improvements through Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy. The treatment is one of several favored approaches when dealing with PTSD patients.
During an EMDR therapy session, a client will focus on a movement or sound while remembering an upsetting memory. The focus on another event during the recitation of the memory is believed to help reduce the negative feelings around the event, essentially helping to reduce the brain’s overall trauma response. This type of therapy is typically used in conjunction with CBT and NET to reduce a client’s overall trauma response.
5. Psychodynamic Trauma Therapy (PTT)
Psychodynamic Trauma Therapy is used for clients who are suffering from PTSD but believe that they have found ways to cope with the trauma. Unfortunately, the ways that they cope are often harmful in the long term, making this type of therapy deal for patients who are self-medicating or partaking in other harmful behaviors.
PTT focuses mostly on the client’s unconscious mind and how it influences their behavior. This type of therapy should only be done under a highly trained professional who has specific experience dealing with PTSD patients. Done properly, PTT helps clients recognize and process painful, unconscious feelings so they can be released instead of being avoided. PTT is often done in in-patient settings.
It is possible to combine PTT with other types of trauma therapy. The exact combination of these therapies will be up to the professional mental health care provider and client. It’s very common to have several different types of trauma therapy simultaneously and to switch between therapy types as the patient develops. Contact us today to learn more.