Trauma-informed therapy takes into consideration clients’ traumatic experiences and their profound influence on their behavior, mental well-being, and capacity to participate in the therapeutic process. 

Trauma-informed therapy takes into consideration clients’ traumatic experiences and their profound influence on their behavior, mental well-being, and capacity to participate in the therapeutic process.

Trauma-informed therapy incorporates a careful examination of clients’ traumatic experiences and their effects on behavior, mental health, and treatment engagement.

Therapists in this approach are aware that clients may have a history of trauma and take deliberate measures to prevent unintentional triggering or re-traumatization during the therapeutic process.

The term “trauma” encompasses a wide range of experiences, and there is no singular type of trauma or universal response to a traumatic event. Different individuals may react differently to the same event, and not everyone who experiences a traumatic incident will necessarily develop trauma afterward.

In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5), trauma is defined as exposure to actual or threatened events involving death, serious injury, or sexual violation.

This exposure can occur through direct experience, witnessing the events happening to others, learning about the events happening to close family members or friends, or experiencing repeated or extreme exposure to the adverse details of the events.

The impact of ongoing stressors on children, known as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), has been extensively studied by organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Research has shown that ACEs can lead to conduct issues in children and adolescents and have long-lasting consequences. Adults with high ACE scores face increased risks for physical health issues, mental illness, and early mortality.

The ten identified Adverse Childhood Experiences include physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical neglect, emotional neglect, family member or caretaker mental illness, family member or caretaker substance abuse, witnessing violence against the mother, having a relative sent to jail or prison, and losing a parent due to separation, divorce, or death.

Moreover, it has been suggested that racial trauma should also be considered an Adverse Childhood Experience, particularly for Black children, further highlighting the diverse range of experiences that can have a profound impact on individuals’ lives.

A trauma-informed therapist possesses comprehensive knowledge about trauma and acknowledges its potential impact on every client. Trauma-informed therapy places significant emphasis on reframing the approach, shifting from asking, “What is wrong with you?” to inquiring, “What happened to you?”

This shift in perspective recognizes the significance of understanding the client’s past experiences and fosters a more empathetic and supportive therapeutic environment.

BHS Modality: Trauma Informed Therapy

Trauma-Informed Therapy Techniques

Trauma-informed therapy goes beyond following a set of specific interventions; instead, it involves customizing interventions according to each individual’s unique trauma history, triggers, and specific requirements.

It serves as a lens through which therapists perceive their clients, recognizing and understanding the profound influence of trauma on their emotions, regulation, and behavior.

Additionally, therapists in this approach are attentive to the effects of intergenerational trauma, acknowledging how it may impact their clients’ well-being.

Trauma-informed therapists place significant emphasis on the following aspects of their practice:

  1. Physical and Emotional Safety: Ensuring that clients feel safe both physically and emotionally during therapy sessions is a top priority for trauma-informed therapists.
  2. Collaboration: Trauma-informed therapists empower their clients by involving them actively in their own care, educating them about available options, and fostering a collaborative therapeutic relationship.
  3. Transparency: Openness and honesty characterize the approach of trauma-informed therapists, as they communicate openly with their clients, fostering a trusting therapeutic environment.
  4. Competency: Trauma-informed therapists continuously update their knowledge and skills in research and best practices for working with individuals who have experienced trauma. They also remain aware of the unique cultural considerations that each client may encounter in the therapeutic process.

Benefits of Trauma Informed Therapy

Trauma-informed therapy is designed to be helpful for individuals who have encountered trauma, whether in childhood or adulthood.

Even if someone is not seeking treatment specifically for trauma, this approach can still ensure emotional safety during therapy sessions.

It’s important to note that not everyone has experienced trauma. However, adopting a trauma-informed approach does not cause harm to those who do not require trauma-informed care.

Many providers choose to implement a trauma-informed approach in all their sessions, recognizing its value beyond cases directly related to trauma. This inclusive approach fosters a supportive and safe therapeutic environment for all clients.

BHS Modality: Trauma Informed Therapy

Trauma-informed therapy, while not prescriptive in terms of specific interventions, has demonstrated enhanced effectiveness in both youth and adults who have undergone trauma experiences. Research indicates positive outcomes for trauma survivors who receive this type of care.

Moreover, trauma-informed therapy is well-equipped to tackle the complex issues of guilt and shame often carried by trauma survivors. By addressing these emotional burdens, the therapeutic approach can offer significant support and healing to those who have endured trauma.

If you believe that trauma-informed care is essential for your therapy needs, it’s crucial to seek a therapist who has appropriate training in this area. Here are some considerations before starting trauma therapy:

  1. Not All Therapists Are Trauma-Informed: While most therapists receive exposure to trauma work during their training, not all of them are specifically trauma-informed.
  2. Ask About Trauma Training: When searching for a therapist, inquire about their training in trauma-informed care. Understanding their level of expertise in this area is essential for ensuring they can meet your unique needs.
  3. Define “Trauma-Informed” for the Therapist: Seek clarity on what being trauma-informed means to the therapist. This will help you understand their approach and whether it aligns with your requirements.
  4. Inquire About Therapeutic Approach: Discuss the therapist’s approach to working with clients who have a trauma history. Understanding their methods and techniques can help you gauge if they resonate with you.
  5. Assess the Therapist’s Client and Trauma Experience: Inquire about the types of clients they typically work with and the kinds of trauma they are experienced in addressing. This will help you determine if their expertise matches your needs.
  6. Comfort and Competency with Specific Trauma: Find out if there are any types of trauma the therapist may not feel comfortable or competent in working with. This information is crucial to ensure you receive appropriate care.
  7. Pace of Treatment: Discuss the therapist’s approach to the pace of treatment when dealing with trauma. Understanding how they handle the process can help you prepare for the therapy journey.

By asking these questions and discussing your concerns openly with potential therapists, you can make an informed decision about choosing the right trauma-informed care provider for your therapeutic journey.

During an intake appointment, therapists typically gather comprehensive information about your history to make appropriate recommendations for your care, which may include inquiring about your trauma history.

However, if you feel uncomfortable sharing certain details, it is completely acceptable to communicate this to the therapist. A trauma-informed therapist will acknowledge your concerns and adapt their approach to suit your needs.

In some cases, therapists might avoid delving into the specific details of your trauma during the first session.

This approach aims to ensure that you have the necessary coping skills to handle any intense emotions that may arise before exploring the trauma itself. A trauma-informed therapist will openly communicate their approach to you and tailor the session accordingly.

If, at any point, you start sharing sensitive details, and your therapist chooses to redirect the session, it does not imply that you have done something wrong. Your therapist may have valid reasons for doing so, which they should explain to you if it occurs.

It’s essential to recognize that therapy can be emotionally draining since it involves exploring feelings and memories that may be unfamiliar or difficult to confront.

Imagining your trauma as a physical wound that has been ignored, you must clean the wound to facilitate proper healing, even if the process is painful. As you embark on this healing journey, be gentle and patient with yourself, allowing yourself the time and space to heal at your own pace.

There is absolutely no shame in seeking help when dealing with the effects of trauma. A trauma-informed therapist will support and validate your emotions, providing you with the essential tools and healthy coping mechanisms needed to process your trauma safely. Remember, reaching out for support is a courageous step towards healing, and you deserve to be supported on your journey to recovery.

Our team at Brooks Healing Center is here to help.