Therapy for Psychological Trauma

There are a variety of therapeutic methods for treating trauma that research has shown to be effective. You explore them below and in the Resources section. We also offer links to reputable therapist finder websites.

Whatever methods you are drawn to, keep in mind that the quality of the relationship is key to success. You should trust, respect, and feel safe with your therapist. You should feel like he or she listens compassionately and offers useful input. Your therapist should be licensed. Relatively few therapists have experience with unintentional killing, but what matters most is their ability to listen with compassion and work with you to achieve your goals.

Two popular and effective approaches for treating posttraumatic stress are Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).

CPT focuses on our beliefs, because these beliefs are at the center of our trauma reactions. The American Psychological Association explains, “changing the content of cognitions about a trauma can impact emotional and behavioral responses to the trauma”. Through CPT, you will confront painful experiences in a safe and supportive setting, you will learn to combat unhelpful and inaccurate beliefs and thoughts, and you will develop stronger coping skills. Feelings of depression, anxiety, shame and guilt should decrease so that you feel better and function better in daily life.

According to the International Association for EMDR, “EMDR therapy, rather than focusing on changing the emotions, thoughts, or behaviors resulting from the distressing issue, allows the brain to resume its natural healing process. EMDR therapy is designed to resolve unprocessed traumatic memories in the brain.” During an EMDR session, you may be asked to describe aspects of the trauma as well as your thoughts related to the trauma. As you do so, the therapist will lead you through eye movements, which help to reduce distress and stimulate the brain’s healing capacities. Through this process you will also come to replace negative beliefs with more positive beliefs.

There are other methods as well, such as cognitive behavior therapy, prolonged exposure therapy or somatic experiencing. Which method is right for you? Check out our Resources section. You can also talk to a therapist about which path to pursue.

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