Trauma survivors face unique challenges in the world. Most survivors have intense feelings after a traumatic event but quickly recover; others have more difficulty — especially those who have had previous traumatic experiences. People who who face ongoing stress or who lack support from friends and family may be particularly at risk.
For many people, finding additional support and treatment is an important component of their recovery. There are many different nonprofit and healthcare organizations that provide unique treatment for trauma survivors. These networks organize as communities to create a great environment to help survivors deal with their issues and move on with their lives.
Specialists agree that people who have experienced chronic trauma involving abuse, violence, or abandonment need treatment to keep the effects of this from affecting them in the future. These types of traumatic events cause feelings of rage, fear, shame, defeat, and withdrawal as a reaction to an often long history of adverse treatment. Treatment is often required to overcome these feelings.
Youth with Developmental Trauma Disorder may have problems with attachment, authority, inability to regulate their emotions, and cognitive impairment. Trauma experts agree that these young people may benefit more from efforts to help them regulate their trauma reactions rather than pharmacological interventions used to medicate ADD, other cognitive and behavioral problems, and anti-social behaviors.
Rather, there is a set series of treatment and support recommendations that community organizations, caretakers, or survivors themselves can incorporate into any recovery plan to move past the effects of trauma.
First and foremost, trauma survivors need a re-established sense of safety in their homes, neighborhoods, and communities.
Secondly, they should be exposed to treatment that helps them come to understand that what happened to them is not their fault, and they did not cause it. Alleviating feelings of guilt and shame is a vital component of any trauma recovery and re-establishes emotional equilibrium.
Re-establishing the ability for attachment is another important step in trauma treatment. Developing trusting interpersonal relationships that are not dysfunctional or abusive heals the trauma from such things in the past. Having strong role models helps survivors productively communicate and empathize with others to develop healthy friendships and relationships.
There are some amazingly creative ways that the trauma recovery process has been integrated into the missions of organizations focused on alleviating the effects on trauma.
The veteran yoga group provides a space for members of the armed forces to embrace yoga and mediation as a way of coping with the physical and emotional wounds they experienced during their service. A growing number of veterans are becoming yoga experts and teachers. They are equipping themselves to accommodate students who have experienced trauma by adapting a typical yoga class to contain and welcome these students. A recent study published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress found that yoga helps to intercept negative thoughts, decrease stress, and offers benefits for PTSD patients.
Equine Assisted (horse-assisted) Psychotherapy for PTSD and other traumas is being utilized and researched at a nonprofit in Tennessee called Calico Junction New Beginnings Ranch. They run equine assisted therapy groups for returning troops from Afghanistan and Iraq. The horses are therapeutic and interactive tools that speed up the therapy process substantially. Horses’ sensitivity to non-verbal communication assists patients in developing greater awareness of their emotions, and the important role of non-verbal communication. Dr. Sakeada, Utah based Clinical Psychologist, notes that one session of EAP in the barn is equal to five sessions “on the couch.” This therapy helps on many levels. It recognizes the bond between animals and humans and the potential for emotional healing that occurs when a relationship is formed between the two. Learning horsemanship (a new skill) also helps establish confidence in tackling new projects.
Serious and repetitive trauma impacts cognition. Treatment that engages attention, comprehension, and problem-solving skills allow healing and growth. Chronic trauma cannot be erased from the memory, however, it can be reframed. People can learn to manage their reactions and cultivate present-oriented responses to current stress.
Severe trauma reactions include hyper-arousal, avoidance, dissociation, and intrusive memories, learning challenges, and attachment difficulties. In many cases, only psychodynamic and cognitive behavioral strategies can address the reactions of people compromised by multiple traumatic experiences of sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, domestic violence, and neglect.
The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS) releases regular updates to treatment standards for trauma therapy and has documented the growing interest the relationship between the creative arts therapies and the brain, including how the brain processes traumatic events and the possibilities for reparation through art, music, movement, play, animal therapy, and drama interventions. Expressive art therapy and community events greatly increase the instances of recovery by helping develop self-regulation, new healthy attachments, and enhancing resilience.
“Equine Therapy for (PTSD) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.” Calico Junction New Beginnings Ranch, Inc. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2014. Web. 15 July 2015.
Malchioti, Cathy, PhD. “Trauma-Informed Art Therapy.” Http://www.cathymalchiodi.com/. N.p., 2013. Web. 14 July 2015.
Trauma-Informed Expressive Arts Therapy” on Psychology Today athttp://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-healing-arts/201203/trauma-informed-expressive-arts-therapy. New York: Sussex Publications/ Psychology Today
“Warrior Pose — One Way to Help Veterans with PTSD? Lots of Yoga. “Washington Post. The Washington Post, 10 Apr. 2015. Web. 14 July 2015.