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Trauma Therapy: What Is It and How Can It Help?

Jaclyn Lopez Witmer, Psy.D.

Trauma therapy is a form of therapy designed to treat the emotional and psychological consequences of trauma. Also called trauma-informed mental health care, trauma therapy is an umbrella term that refers to specific types of therapy tailored to treating the impacts of trauma.

Trauma treatment aims to provide supportive, compassionate care for individuals with histories of trauma. Whether you’re experiencing the symptoms of traumatic stress disorder, trying to make sense of a traumatic experience, or searching for support, here’s how trauma therapy can help you jumpstart the healing process.

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How does trauma therapy work?

Many people experience a traumatic event during their lives—whether it’s a natural disaster, severe injury, or another stressful event such as collective trauma, or racial trauma. In the days and weeks following your traumatic experience, it’s completely normal to experience a range of difficult emotions, from anxiety to depression and anger.

While some people can move on after a traumatic event, others may be predisposed to longer-term emotional trauma and psychological distress. Trauma therapists help individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) confront their traumatic experiences, cope with the mental health impacts of trauma, and improve their quality of life.

Depending on your mental health needs and preferences, your trauma therapist may recommend different forms of therapy to create a comprehensive treatment plan. Some common types of trauma therapy include:

  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. EMDR is an effective treatment for PTSD that helps remove “blockages” that prevent you from moving forward. During EMDR therapy sessions, your trauma therapist will use an external stimulus (such as eye movement) to direct your attention outward while you talk through your trauma.
  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy. During psychodynamic therapy, you’ll discuss your trauma symptoms and explore your traumatic experience through open-ended questions, free association, and other psychodynamic techniques. Psychodynamic therapy relies on a solid foundation of trust between the client and therapist, and it focuses on uncovering internal conflicts that can contribute to trauma symptoms.
  • Trauma-focused cognitive behavior therapy (TF-CBT). TF-CBT is specifically designed for children, adolescents, and family members who have experienced a traumatic event. As a short-term form of talk therapy, CBT helps clients confront their mental health concerns, manage negative thoughts, and learn healthy coping strategies to move forward.

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Is trauma therapy effective?

Research shows that trauma therapy is an effective treatment for different types of trauma, and 77–100 percent of clients who attend regular trauma therapy sessions will see an improvement in their symptoms. Even if you don’t meet the full diagnostic criteria for PTSD but still suffer from trauma-related distress, trauma therapy can be a valuable resource in your healing process.

To make the most out of your therapy sessions, it’s worth taking some time to understand your goals and objectives for therapy. With the help of a trauma counselor, psychologist, or social worker, you’ll be able to decide what type of trauma therapy will be the most beneficial for your unique mental health needs.

When it comes to treating PTSD, a highly personalized treatment approach can give you the best chances of recovery. Trauma therapy is client-focused, centering around your specific goals and trauma symptoms.

Finding the Right Trauma Therapist

Whether you’re navigating life after a traumatic incident, overcoming past trauma, or experiencing painful memories, trauma therapy is the first step toward feeling better.
To find the right therapist, reach out to a mental health professional through WithTherapy. We’ll connect you to an experienced trauma therapist that you feel comfortable with based on your personal preferences and requirements. One of the compassionate therapists on the WithTherapy platform will create a safe space for you to explore your traumatic experience, manage your trauma symptoms, and live a more fulfilling life.

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