Treating Trauma with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Trauma. Just the sound of that word can incite an undeniable fear. And it makes sense. Whether we are talking about “BIG T Trauma” (things like death, divorce, abuse, neglect, injury, accident, major illness, natural disaster, financial ruin, etc) or “little t trauma” (things like loss of friendship, loss of parts of one’s identity, job changes, children leaving the nest or welcome a new one home), trauma has an effect on our lives in more ways than one. It is so important to recognize the effects of trauma on our lives, our bodies, our emotions, our relationships and our behaviors. One excellent way of helping to recognize these changes is through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with a trained provider who specializes in not only recognizing these “BIG T” and “little t” traumas but also in how to treat them holistically and safely in the therapeutic environment. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is often an effective way of working through trauma as it addresses how our thoughts affect our behaviors and works to create alternatives to deal with and move on from the pain caused by trauma.

Below are five important therapeutic approaches I take with clients who have or are currently experiencing trauma during Cognitive Behavioral Therapy:

1) Safety. It’s something I focus heavily on in every therapeutic interaction but is especially important with clients working through trauma. It is vital to ensure that a client feels safe in the therapeutic relationship with their clinician in order to work through the trauma effectively and in a meaningful way that does not, in fact, re-traumatize the client. Often, painful and frightening memories are connected to the trauma and when discussing these in a vulnerable way, clients should feel safe in session and after too. If you are feeling intensely vulnerable nbso online casino reviews or shaken at the end of your session, tell your provider so they can help you come up with a plan for continuing support outside the session.

2) Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. Listen to your body”s messages about physical concerns. Of course, we always want to ensure that medical concerns are addressed appropriately, but often trauma deeply affects our bodies as much as it does our minds. Headaches, chronic pain, stomach and GI issues, weight gain or loss, and addiction are just a few of the ways that trauma can manifest itself in the body.

3) Friends and Family. Some clients have wonderful support networks. Some do not. Brainstorm with your clinician about how to include reliable and supportive family and friends in the process of working through the traumatic process with you. Maybe even role play to help share your thoughts and feelings with your support system by practicing in session or even by consider having your choice of support in one or more
cognitive behavioral therapy sessions with you to help guide your through the process in and out of the allotted appointment time.

4) Triggers. One of the most important things to address in discussing trauma is triggers that you may experience in day to day life. This can help make meaning out of recurring thoughts that lead to potentially dangerous or unwanted behaviors that the you are hoping to change. Keep in mind, anything can be a trigger: a sound, a smell, a word, a vision, the list goes on and on. Think

5) Post-traumatic Stress Growth. No matter what we do in and out of the therapy session, no matter what approach we use in that time, nothing takes away the fact that the trauma has occurred and affected you in countless ways. While this sounds bleak, once I get to a safe and stable place with my clients working through trauma in cognitive behavioral therapy, I begin working on the process of post=traumatic stress
growth. Simply put, this is the process of putting meaning to the trauma and working to grow and become better for the experience rather than remain burdened or victimized by it. This is sometimes just as painful a process as the trauma itself but much like addressing therapy through cognitive behavioral therapy can be, I can promise you this: it will be worth it in the end.

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