Experiencing trauma is incredibly common and it can happen to anyone. As many as 60% of men and 50% of women will go through trauma at some time in their life, whether a car accident, physical assault, or natural disaster. Even if you were not directly involved in the event, it can still affect you – sometimes years later.
If you are struggling with nightmares, intrusive thoughts, or mood swings, you may be asking yourself, “Where can I find a trauma therapist near me?” Trauma therapy can help you process your trauma and overcome your symptoms so you can live a happy and healthy life.
What is Trauma Therapy?
Trauma therapy is simply a form of talk therapy aimed at treating the mental and emotional consequences of trauma – it is also known as trauma-focused therapy. There are a number of different forms of trauma-focused therapy which can be tailored to the individual patient’s situation.
When it comes to trauma treatment, there are three primary goals:
- Learning coping skills
- Improving your symptoms
- Restoring your self-esteem
As is true for any form of therapy, trauma therapy is patient-focused and goal-oriented. In trauma therapy, your mental health professional will help you process psychological trauma and teach coping skills to help you manage your trauma symptoms and achieve your goals.
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Whether you are struggling with physical trauma, psychological trauma, or other mental health issues, Betterhelp offers comprehensive online counseling for individuals, couples, and teenagers. With over 20,000 licensed therapists who are trained specifically to deliver mental health services, Betterhelp is our top pick for the best online trauma treatment.
Betterhelp offers convenient, affordable, and easily accessible mental health services. What makes this service unique is that everything is done online. With a large network of psychologists, therapists, social workers, and counselors, Betterhelp has been proven to be as effective as face-to-face counseling. According to an extensive study by the Berkeley Well-Being Institute, 94% of new clients prefer Betterhelp to face-to-face therapy.
With Betterhelp, clients can communicate with their therapist via phone, chat sessions, and live video sessions. Get started by filling out a simple questionnaire to be matched with the right therapist to meet your needs.
Treatment Options for Trauma
Treatments for PTSD fall into two main categories: therapy and medication. There are many different forms of trauma-focused therapies and many mental health professionals recommend a combination of therapy and medication.
Most forms of PTSD treatment fall under the category of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This type of therapy is aimed at helping the client understand how their thoughts and beliefs affect their feelings and behavior. It also focuses on teaching coping skills to deal with various forms of mental illness including PTSD, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and more.
Trauma Therapy Techniques
Cognitive Processing Therapy
This form of PTSD treatment involves talking through your traumatic experience with a licensed therapist. You will talk about the traumatic event itself as well as your thoughts and feelings surrounding the event. Your therapist will help you identify the ways in which your experiences have affected your life so you can process them and learn to move forward.
Prolonged Exposure Therapy
After experiencing trauma, many people avoid situations that remind them of the triggering event. Prolonged exposure therapy involves confronting the things you have been avoiding while practicing breathing techniques to control your anxiety. In a series of eight to fifteen sessions, you will learn how to face your fears and overcome your PTSD symptoms.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
Also known as EMDR, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy is an interactive form of therapy designed to help clients overcome traumatic stress. During an EMDR session, clients relieve frightening situations or triggering experiences while the therapist directs their eye movements. By diverting your attention while reliving episodes of traumatic stress, EMDR may reduce the negative effects of trauma over time.
Stress Inoculation Training
This form of CBT can be conducted in a group or as individual therapy. Stress inoculation training helps clients recognize and change negative thoughts that are influencing your behavior. It supports trauma healing by preparing your brain to defend itself against PTSD symptoms when you are exposed to triggers.
While therapy is crucial for PTSD treatment, many clients benefit from taking medication to help control the “fight or flight” response in their nervous system that contributes to their symptoms. The most common medications used to treat trauma are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) like sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil), fluoxetine (Prozac), and venlafaxine (Effexor).
How to Find the Best Trauma Therapist Near Me?
When it comes to finding a mental health provider, the sheer number of options available can make the search a little overwhelming. To make sure you find the right therapist to meet your needs, there are a few things you should do.
Know What You Need
Before you start searching for mental health providers, think about your primary mental health concerns and what you want in a therapist. Do you need trauma-focused CBT or do you just want someone to talk to? Trauma work varies greatly from one therapist to another, so think about what you are looking to accomplish in your therapy sessions before you start looking.
Do Your Research
If you are struggling with trauma, you should do your research to find a mental health provider who is trained to treat trauma. Many therapists have training to treat a variety of mental health issues like depression and anxiety, but PTSD is a specific diagnosis that often requires specialized care. Look for providers in your area or online who have a background in trauma.
Check Their Reputation
Once you have narrowed down your options to a few providers, do some research to learn what you can about each one. Check the provider’s website and look for reviews as well. Finding the right counselor is largely a matter of finding someone you feel safe and comfortable with, but reading reviews from other clients can help you decide which providers may be a good fit. Many providers offer free consultations for new patients so you can at least have a conversation with the therapist before you commit to a full therapy session.
Complete a Questionnaire
If you really do not know what you are looking for in a counselor, consider filling out a questionnaire on an online therapy website. You will be required to provide some basic information about yourself and your concerns so the website can pair you with one of their psychologists or therapists. You should still do some research to decide which website looks like the right fit.
Understanding Trauma & PTSD
Trauma is an emotional response to a frightening or shocking event. Examples of traumatic events include accidents, physical or sexual assault, combat, disaster, or witness to death or injury. Trauma can happen to anyone at any time and each individual’s response is different.
There are no diagnostic criteria for the specific events which cause post-trauma symptoms, but traumatizing events often incorporate feelings like loss of control, abuse of power, betrayal, confusion, loss, pain, and helplessness. Traumatic situations vary quite significantly from one person to another – it is incredibly subjective. Trauma is defined more by the patient’s response than to the triggering event itself.
Many people who experience trauma develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). That being said, exposure to trauma can contribute to the development of a variety of other psychiatric disorders including:
- Bipolar disorder
- Personality disorders
- Psychotic disorders
The symptoms of these conditions often overlap which can make it challenging for mental health providers to make an accurate diagnosis. When it comes to diagnosing PTSD, it primarily comes down to identifying the symptoms.
Symptoms of PTSD
Each person responds to trauma differently but there are a number of common emotional symptoms which contribute to physical or behavioral effects. Trauma can leave you struggling with anxiety, unwanted thoughts, triggering memories, and upsetting emotions that you can’t control. It can also leave you feeling helpless and disconnected from others, often unable to trust other people.
Common emotional signs of trauma include:
- Anger or irritability
- Mood swings
- Shock, disbelief, or denial
- Fear and anxiety
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sadness or hopelessness
- Feeling numb
- Withdrawing from others
- Guilt or shame
In addition to these psychological symptoms, many people develop physical signs following trauma. These symptoms can be caused or exacerbated by the emotional symptoms above, or they can occur separately.
Common physical signs of trauma include:
- Startling easily
- Trouble sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating
- Racing heartbeat
- Muscle tension
- Aches and pains
The symptoms of trauma can last anywhere from a few days to a few months, in most cases. As you process the traumatic event, your symptoms may lessen and eventually go away. Even in the process of healing, however, you may experience a resurgence of symptoms triggered by a memory or reminder of the event.
Acute Stress Disorder vs. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Not every person who experiences trauma develops PTSD. Many who experience psychological and emotional effects following a traumatic experience find their symptoms go away after a few weeks. This is known as acute stress disorder (ASD). If the symptoms last more than a month and start to affect the person’s ability to function, then it is more likely to be diagnosed as PTSD. Some people suffer from PTSD symptoms for the rest of their lives.
Trauma affects people of all ages but trauma experienced in childhood can have a severe and lasting effect – it may even make you more susceptible to trauma in adulthood. Anything that negatively impacts a child’s sense of safety can cause trauma.
Examples of triggers for childhood trauma may include:
- Separation from parents
- Domestic violence
- Serious medical illness
- Physical, verbal, or sexual abuse
- Unstable or unsafe environment
Repeated negative experiences such as neglect or abuse can accumulate as well and contribute to developmental trauma. Developmental trauma is also known as an Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE). It is common in families where the parents have mental illness or substance abuse issues themselves. Kids who lose a parent to divorce, incarceration, or abandonment are at-risk for trauma as well.
Not only does childhood trauma increase the risk for trauma later in life, but it can negatively affect a child’s health. As the number of ACEs in a child’s life increases, so does the risk for negative health effects such as smoking, drug use, alcoholism, obesity, diabetes, depression, heart disease, and cancer.
According to the National Center for PTSD, roughly 8 million adults experience post-traumatic stress disorder during any given year. Though trauma is incredibly common, many who experience it fail to seek treatment. If you’re suffering from PTSD, don’t delay in seeking support. With the help of a trauma therapist you can learn to process your trauma, control your symptoms, and achieve the healing you desire to live a happy and healthy life.
Frequently Asked Questions
Trauma therapists work with children and adults who have had traumatic experiences such as a car accident, a death in the family, physical assault, or developmental trauma.
Many insurance companies offer coverage for mental health providers including therapists and psychologists, though you’ll need to check with your plan to get the details. Some companies only cover face-to-face therapy and not online therapy.
In order to become a licensed trauma therapist, a person must obtain a master’s degree in counseling along with somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 hours of supervised work experience with a licensed counselor. They must also pass the state board exam.