Trauma therapy is a type of mental health treatment that counsellors use to help people overcome psychological trauma. A traumatic event is defined as one in which you perceive a threat to your life, bodily integrity, or sanity.
The other component of the definition is your reaction to the event or situation. If you can cope with the event, even if it is a serious threat, it isn’t trauma. Trauma occurs when your ability to handle the event is comprised.
We know that it often takes a strategic combination of therapies to provide the best possible treatment and results for our patients. With this in mind, we at Castle Craig have adopted a multi-pronged approach to treating trauma and addiction.
Our team is experienced in crafting unique treatment programs that help patients deal with trauma. The best path forward is to find out what type of therapy the counsellor uses to treat trauma patients.
Goals of Trauma Therapy
Before you begin any type of counselling, it helps to have an idea of what you wish to accomplish, and how you want your life to improve. For many people, trauma therapy is an opportunity to tell their story, find peace and finally confront issues that have been causing problems in their lives. Going into therapy means identifying traumas, triggers and your response to both i.e. using drugs or alcohol to forget traumatic events.
The main goals of trauma therapy are:
- To face the reality of the past event without getting stuck in it
- To reduce or eliminate trauma symptoms
- To move away from using alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism
- To work towards shifting focus from the past to the present
- To improve daily functioning
- Raise awareness of hereditary trauma
- To reclaim your personal power
- To overcome addictions associated with traumatic stress
- To gain skills that prevent alcohol or drug relapse.
Your Castle Craig counsellor is available to help you decide what you hope to gain from your time in trauma therapy if you’re unsure.
Types of Therapy Most Often Used for Trauma
At Castle Craig, we offer three main types of therapy which have been proven to help patients move past trauma: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR), equine therapy and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) group and individual therapy.
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing) is an innovative treatment that helps patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to process negative memories and emotions that have been suppressed. It enables them to achieve their therapeutic goals rapidly, with recognisable changes that don’t disappear over time.
Following EMDR processing, patients often report that any emotional distress related to the trauma has greatly decreased. Many also describe gaining important insights into their mental processes such as memory, judgement, reasoning, and behaviour. More on EMDR.
Trauma Therapy in Group Sessions
All patients at Castle Craig are screened for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder using the PTSD questionnaire and a full psychiatric assessment by our consultant psychiatrist.
Trauma therapy at Castle Craig Hospital is undertaken by experienced, qualified trauma therapists. There is a trauma group in which participants learn ways of dealing with the psychological and physical effects of the trauma.
Some patients may require individual trauma therapy. The therapies of choice are Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
Both therapies are recognised as the gold standard by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence. As trauma memories are often held in the body, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy may also be used. Mindfulness is also practised as this can teach people ways to regulate their arousal levels.
The trauma treatment is holistic and helps the person re-process the trauma so that memories that are being re-experienced are processed into narrative, explicit memory rather than implicit and somatic memory. This means that these memories no longer intrude on daily life nor interfere with addiction treatment.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can occur after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event or events, or through early neglect which can lead to attachment trauma and ultimately unhealthy coping patterns through alcohol and drugs which can lead to addiction. Typical traumatic experiences are childhood sexual abuse, childhood neglect, emotional and physical abuse, domestic violence, rape, military combat, accidents, acts of terrorism, illness and complex grief.
PTSD has been known by many names in the past, such as “shell shock” during the years of World War I and “combat fatigue” after World War II. But PTSD does not just happen to combat veterans.
PTSD can occur in all people, in people of any ethnicity, nationality or culture, and any age. A recent study published by Cambridge University Press looked at the phenomena relating to traumatic experiences in people seeking treatment for substance use disorders. The study found that substance abuse had the effect of dampening the memories of those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Symptoms of PTSD fall into four categories and specific symptoms can vary in severity.
- Intrusive thoughts such as repeated, involuntary memories; distressing dreams; or flashbacks of the traumatic event. Flashbacks may be so vivid that people feel they are re-living the traumatic experience or seeing it before their eyes.
- Avoiding reminders of the traumatic event may include avoiding people, places, activities, objects and situations that bring on distressing memories.
- Negative thoughts and feelings may include ongoing and distorted beliefs about oneself or others (e.g., “I am bad,” “No one can be trusted”); ongoing fear, horror, anger, guilt or shame; much less interest in activities previously enjoyed; or feeling detached from others.
- Arousal and reactive symptoms may include being irritable and having angry outbursts; behaving recklessly or in a self-destructive way; being easily startled, or having problems concentrating or sleeping.
Many people who are exposed to a traumatic event experience symptoms like those described above in the days following the event. For a person to be diagnosed with PTSD, however, symptoms last for more than a month and often persist for months and sometimes years.
Many individuals develop symptoms within three months of the trauma, but symptoms may appear later. For people with PTSD, the symptoms cause significant distress or problems functioning. PTSD often occurs with other related conditions, such as depression, substance use, memory problems and other physical and mental health problems.