What is trauma? The American Psychological Association defines it as “any disturbing experience that results in significant fear, helplessness, disassociation, confusion, or other disruptive feelings intense enough to have a negative effect on a person’s attitudes, behavior, and other aspects of functioning” (1).
Simply, trauma is experiencing a moment that is distressing to an individual and that impacts their life, such as a car accident, abuse, injury, war, natural disasters, etc.
We are going to look at 4 ways therapy can be a helpful tool after experiencing a traumatic event.
1. Provides a Safe and Supportive Environment
A symptom of trauma is difficulty feeling safe (2). As a result, someone may feel on high alert, “on edge,” or paranoid. Therapy can provide a space where feelings of safety can be fostered and skills to deal with fear and stress can be learned (4).
2. Safer Navigation Through Challenging Memories
Strong emotional reactions linked to triggers (like smells, objects, locations, or anything else that reminds someone of a traumatic event) are common responses to trauma (2;5). After the experience(s), it can be difficult to understand and cope with what has happened. In therapy, a professional can help someone safely navigate through painful and emotional experiences that may be too challenging to do on their own (4).
3. Identify and Support Post Traumatic Stress Symptoms
Post Traumatic Stress symptoms can surface as dreams, flashbacks, feelings of intense fear, insomnia, and more (2). These symptoms can be challenging in someone’s life.
However, it is possible to reduce these symptoms when treated through therapy, especially when treated early (3). A therapist has the skills and knowledge to recognize and support someone experiencing these symptoms.
4. Promote Resilience
Resilience is the ability to grow from adversity and it is one of the most beautiful aspects of humanity (6). What helps someone be more resilient in the face of adversity? Studies have found that social support can be a powerful factor in promoting resilience (4).
Therapy can be one positive way to receive this social support and could also provide opportunities to intentionally build other areas in your life that encourage resilience (4).
A traumatic experience may always be a part of your story, but it does NOT define you or determine the quality of your future. If a traumatic experience is causing you or a loved one frequent distress, do not hesitate to connect with us on our website (https://mymbctherapy.com/contact) or email us at [email protected]
It is important to know that it may take time to find a therapist who is a good fit. It is not one size fits all. Find someone who makes you feel safe, comfortable, and supported so you can begin your journey of healing.
2. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: Author.