Trauma-informed therapy is an approach that guides us in creating a safe environment that empowers you to find healing.
Trauma-informed care provides a foundation for the trust and resources that people need in order to work with emotional struggles and to change how those challenges impact them today. When you feel safe in therapy, you can learn and grow from challenging experiences toward greater wellbeing.
Trauma-informed therapy is the key to understanding your experiences, without becoming flooded, overwhelmed, or re-traumatized when bringing up painful issues.
Trauma-informed care (TIC) makes the process of therapy as safe, productive and beneficial to you as possible.
Who can benefit from trauma-Informed therapy?
Even if you think your issues have nothing to do with trauma, you can benefit tremendously from working with a trauma-informed therapist. You are working with someone who is aware of the impact of emotional and psychological stress on the mind and body. A trauma-informed therapist will use that awareness to help you in every way possible.
TIC recognizes that emotionally overwhelming experiences — or traumas — lie at the root of many mental, emotional and behavioral challenges people want to heal. Because the person seeking therapy may not see the connection, we take responsibility to keep ourselves informed about the impact of trauma so we can help a person safely explore their experiences in therapy.
What do we mean by trauma?
Trauma can come from any experience in which a person feels endangered. Trauma can happen regardless of the circumstances or how others react to the same situation. Trauma impacts the way a person’s nervous system responds. It’s not the type of event or the setting, or another person’s judgment of the situation that defines trauma. It’s how you felt.
We recognize trauma often by the symptoms. The experience of trauma changes how a person’s mind and body function in response to events, stress, or certain triggers.
Single events such as accidents, or long-term events such as illness may cause trauma. Conditions that no one can see may cause trauma. A person who feels unsafe, misunderstood, or with little comfort or connection in the world may experience trauma. Living a life with depression, anxiety or other mood disorders can cause trauma. Having a child may cause trauma.
Trauma is common. It also commonly goes unrecognized, untreated and misdiagnosed, especially in childhood.
Adult challenges often have roots in childhood experiences.
Many children grow up under tremendous burdens of stress from abuse, neglect, unsafe neighborhoods, or political violence. Some endure troubled relationships with parents or caregivers. Some grow up feeling it is not safe to say how they think and feel when social norms in families, communities or cultures clash with what they privately feel is normal and true for them.
When you feel ashamed or afraid to be yourself, you may experience trauma.
Some children are diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, when some of the same symptoms are just as likely to be trauma related. A trauma-informed therapist is your ally if you or your child has received a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD. A careful assessment to identify a person’s trauma history can help prevent more people from taking unnecessary medication or living with an incorrect diagnosis.
What are some symptoms of trauma?
Trauma’s impact shows in a person’s struggle to regulate thoughts, emotions, and automatic responses from the nervous system.
In the aftermath of overwhelming events, people can become hypersensitive emotionally. They may become so focused on the needs of others they neglect of their own needs. They may have little tolerance for things that upset them, and may try to control whatever they can for a semblance of security, safety, or normalcy. They may also try to refuse certain activities and interactions with others to avoid unmanageable thoughts and feelings.
Hypervigilance to danger is another (of many) neurological responses that have roots in trauma. A person feeling hypervigilant remains on high alert for something or someone that might hurt them. Hypervigilance may show up as intense worry and anxiety about what others may be thinking, fear of bad outcomes, or constant wariness to dangers from people, accidents or the environment.
Trauma survivors often don’t know how to find a sense of belonging with people who might seem safe. They struggle to live with emotions that are either too intense (hyperarousal) or they feel dead and numb inside (hypoarousal).
These are just some of the many ways trauma may impact people throughout their lifetime.
Does time heal trauma?
People don’t simply outgrow childhood trauma. You don’t automatically feel safe, self-assured and clear about how to build healthy relationships just because you’ve gotten older.
Instead, the impact of trauma is likely to continue expressing itself through symptoms such as intense anxiety, panic attacks, physical pain, fear, depression — what we call dysregulated emotions.
Many trauma survivors seek relief with substance use, self-harm, food or exercise, workaholism, or other addictive behavior. People with untreated trauma statistically suffer higher rates of illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.
How can trauma-informed care help?
TIC focuses on your strengths – how you have survived — not pathology.
We do not ask, “What’s wrong with you” instead we invite you to share (when you are ready and we have built in resources to help with safety and stabilization): “What has happened to you?” Together we learn how your symptoms make sense given your history or what has happened to you.
TIC offers hope because it helps you find the support, resources, healthy boundaries and self-care and relationships you need to feel safe. It empowers resilience in you!
Our goal is to walk with you to understand what happened and find a new sense of your own wholeness, empowerment and strengths. Healing brings:
- Increased self-care and compassion
- Affect (emotional) regulation
- Resource development (awareness of your support systems both inside and outside of you)
- Ability to build healthier relationships, starting with a therapeutic relationship of secure attachment
We are passionate in our dedication to trauma-informed care. All therapists at Brickel and Associates practice trauma-informed therapy.
Still have questions about trauma-informed therapy?
We welcome your questions.
Every article on our blog reflects a trauma-informed approach. Some articles with a greater focus on TIC include: