Traumatic events such as accidents, domestic violence, physical or emotional abuse, and loss of a loved one, among others, can have devastating consequences on the physical, psychological, and social well-being of the individual who suffered from it.
Over 50% of people have lived through some traumatic event at least once in their lives, an alarming figure that makes us realize how common these incidents genuinely are.
However, traumatic experiences do not define the rest of the victim's existence. Trauma therapy helps you deal with the emotional response caused by these events until you can return to enjoying your life to the fullest.
Online trauma therapy is a safe, easy, and flexible alternative to access treatment anywhere you feel comfortable and on your own terms.
This article will explain all about trauma, its symptoms, and what online therapy for trauma can do to help you overcome this experience.
What Exactly Is a Trauma?
Trauma refers to a person's physical, emotional, and psychological response to a highly stressful event.
Not everyone who goes through a traumatic experience develops long-term negative consequences, but those who do can suffer devastating symptoms that can even affect their ability to function.
Traumatic experiences come in all shapes and colors. However, among the most common scenarios are childhood trauma, abusive relationships, natural disasters, car or plane accidents, sexual abuse, or the loss of a loved one.
Some traumas are once-in-a-lifetime events, such as a car accident or natural disaster. In contrast, others have a longer duration, such as going through a chronic illness or dealing with domestic abuse. Depending on each experience, the person will cope with different symptoms.
Symptoms of Trauma
There is no one typical symptom for trauma, as each person responds differently to their experiences.
However, some common symptoms are to be expected after a traumatic event. The following are some of the most common reactions that trauma patients have:
- Intrusive thoughts and memories: People who have been through a traumatic event often recall it through intrusive memories and thoughts. These usually pop into their mind after they stumble upon a person, situation, or place that reminds them of the traumatic event.
- Hypervigilance: After going through a traumatic event, people become more aware of their surroundings. The body's natural defense mechanism keeps you safe by making you more vigilant of possible threats. However, this coping mechanism becomes problematic when it prevents you from appreciating your life experiences.
- Hyperarousal: Just as you become more aware of your surroundings after a traumatic event, you may also become more tense and sensitive. This is also a natural defense mechanism developed by your biological system to ensure survival. Anxiety is your body's way of preparing you to respond appropriately to danger. However, it becomes problematic when it keeps you constantly alert in non-threatening situations.
- Feeling unsafe: After going through a traumatic event, you might stop feeling the world is a safe place. That is why any situation becomes a potential threat, no matter how trivial it may seem. The locations and activities you used to safely attend become triggers of anxiogenic symptoms that remind you of the traumatic event. As a result, you begin to avoid them.
As you read through some symptoms, you might notice that some are more subtle than others, which is why you might not realize how the trauma is slowly affecting your life.
That is why therapy, either in-person or online therapy, is the best way to deal with trauma. A therapist can support you during the process while helping you better understand the symptoms you are experiencing.
What Is Trauma Therapy All About?
Trauma therapy can assist you in processing and navigating a traumatic event. The benefits of trauma therapy focus on helping you achieve the following:
- Confront your experience head-on: Exposure therapy helps you face the source of your anxiety until you recognize that your body and mind can face that fear without problems. For example, suppose you had a traumatic event regarding a spider. In that case, the therapist can immerse you in prolonged exposure to these animals in a safe and controlled environment, using pictures or videos, until you no longer feel threatened by them.
- Cope with the harmful effects of trauma: Some side effects of trauma include feeling anxious or fearful around other people. Trauma therapists can help you cope with these side effects using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to correct inaccurate thoughts and unhelpful behavior patterns resulting from trauma.
- Move forward with your life: Traumatic experiences can have devastating effects on your social relationships, performance at work, and other areas of your life. Trauma therapy recognizes this impact and helps you move forward with your life.
- Offer validation: If you have experienced trauma, you’ve probably been told that your experiences or emotional reactions are unreasonable, leading you to develop chronic difficulties. Therapy can help validate your traumatic experiences and offer the acceptance you need to start healing.
While different trauma therapists can differ in their approach to the treatment, they are all focused on helping you heal and have a life worth living. This means analyzing your particular symptoms, exposing you to trauma, and helping you develop specific goals for therapy.
Once they conduct a thoughtful analysis, the therapist can then develop a tailored treatment to best help you as an individual, which is why it is essential to build a strong relationship with them.
Types of Trauma Therapy
Different types of psychological therapy can help you overcome trauma. The following are the most common techniques and treatments professionals use to deal with trauma-related issues.
This type of talk therapy focuses on how you react and interact with the world around you. It makes you realize how relationships affect your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
In this form of trauma therapy, you discuss your symptoms and detail the traumatic event you have experienced. Psychodynamic treatment relies on a solid client-therapist rapport, and it is rooted in unveiling whatever internal conflicts might be harming you.
This therapy aims to recognize and overcome negative feelings and repressed emotions by acknowledging and expressing those feelings.
Cognitive processing therapy (CPT)
Cognitive processing therapy can be performed in an individual or group setting. This form of trauma therapy works on the principle that you can't change your experiences but learn to manage your reactions to them.
Experiencing trauma makes you develop strong feelings about your traumatic memories. This emotional response often makes it difficult to cope with the thoughts and memories related to it. This often leads you to avoid triggers that cause such pain, which can block recovery as it prevents you from responding differently to such scenarios.
During this form of therapy, the therapist will help you understand the event and the negative emotions and behaviors attached to it. This will make you aware of the automatic responses you perform, in order to change them to more adaptive ones.
Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TFCBT)
This type of short-term talk therapy helps you confront and manage your thoughts related to the trauma. It's designed for younger people like children and teenagers and their families to cope with traumatic events.
Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy involves challenging your outlook on the event and the thoughts and beliefs you've developed as a result of it. At the end of the treatment, you will respond more positively to the memories and ideas about the event by changing your perspective on it.
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
This form of trauma therapy is meant for adults and it involves using rhythmic left-right (bilateral) stimulation to facilitate the processing of traumatic memories to bring these to an adaptive solution. EMDR helps release emotions that have been blocked by trauma, reformulate negative beliefs about it, and reduce psychological arousal.
According to a 2018 study, trauma therapies that address thoughts, memories, and feelings related to a traumatic event effectively treat its negative consequences. Some of them can be carried out both in person or via online therapy.
Can Online Therapy Help?
Some therapists can provide online therapy for trauma counseling for you to receive proper treatment remotely. The benefits of online trauma therapy include:
- Comfort: Most people who have gone through distressing experiences like trauma may not feel comfortable enough to go somewhere away from home to talk about it. This is why online therapy can be an excellent alternative, as it takes the edge off and allows you to open up more quickly.
- Convenience: Online therapy or trauma counseling can also be more convenient than in-person sessions. Online therapy sessions allow you to attend your appointments from home or anywhere you prefer; over the phone or through video calls. You don't have to worry about traveling to the therapist's office, saving you a lot of time and energy in the process.
In addition, online counseling is more affordable than in-person treatment, provides anonymity if you so desire, and has more options available for finding the ideal therapist for you.
Most people have been through a traumatic event at least once in their lives. Although this does not mean they will develop severe psychological symptoms, many end up avoiding situations and activities they once enjoyed, affecting their social and professional lives.
The best way to process these experiences and improve your emotional responses of fear and anxiety towards a traumatic event is through therapy.
Some of the trauma therapies available include trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy, and cognitive processing therapy. All of them can be conducted as online therapy to provide you with the convenience and comfort to restore a sense of well-being in your life.
Our network of qualified mental health professionals can help you start online counseling and work through the negative consequences of trauma. Online therapy for trauma will validate your symptoms and allow you to change your emotional responses and outlook on the event to resume enjoying your life.