What Is Trauma Therapy?

What Is Trauma Therapy?

What Is Trauma?

Trauma can have different intensities and impacts on people; hence, it can be hard to summarise all that constitutes trauma in the clinical context.  

However, trauma is a sudden and disturbing life event that could be threatening in nature to you or someone else.  

Before we dive in, it is important to note that trauma therapy can help with many conditions, such as acute stress disorder, PTSD, OCD, and so on. 

According to the SAMHSA, psychological trauma results from any one or multiple events that are physically or emotionally harmful and affect the person’s functioning in various areas of life, like social, spiritual, work, academic, etc. 

Examples of trauma could be escaping near-death situations, emotional or physical abuse, sexual assault, bullying, car accidents etc.  

Traumatic events are different from other negative experiences, such as divorce. While divorce can negatively affect an individual and the impacts are ongoing, unlike trauma, these experiences are not sudden.  

When it comes to trauma, each person could develop the same or different symptoms caused by a unique set of circumstances.  

The causes could include environmental stressors, medications, socioeconomic conditions, gender, and neurological issues.  

Let us break down the types of trauma therapy, what issues it can help with, and how you can benefit from trauma-informed care.  

What Is Trauma Therapy?

Traum therapy, or trauma-focused therapy, addresses the impacts that traumatic events can have on an individual’s psychological, emotional, social, and spiritual wellness. 

A Therapist may modify trauma therapy to personalise it for all ages, including children, teenagers, adults, and elderly people.  

The different types of traumas are: 

  • Acute trauma: Distress due to a single traumatic event, such as a car accident 
  • Chronic trauma: Distress due to multiple and ongoing traumatic events such as domestic violence or bullying 
  • Complex trauma: Distress due to prolonged abuse or neglect that usually starts from childhood and is often perpetrated by a person of authority (eg parent or caregiver) 

Trauma therapy is usually used after the person experiences significant distress in their life. However, research proves that using trauma therapy as a preventative intervention could eliminate the long-term effects of emotional distress. 

Hence, if you notice any distress in yourself or your loved ones, seek therapy in Malaysia to identify the key problems and cope with trauma.  

Role of a Therapist in Trauma Therapy

An author, Jania Fisher, describes that trauma responses are an ‘attempt at adaptation’. What we may think of as resistance, isolation, or personality flaws are actually a representation of how the traumatised person has learned to survive in a threatening and unsafe environment.  

Essentially, the person’s coping mechanisms (which may as well constitute a ‘symptom of trauma’) were created by the individual as a solution to avoid distressing feelings.  

This is where trauma-informed therapy can be useful.  

A therapist may help the client understand how and why each symptom was the brain’s way of protecting the person from danger.  

The therapist may also provide essential tools to heal as the person learns how to express what they have been experiencing.  

Therapist providing trauma therapy to two clients

Types of Trauma Therapy

A skilled trauma therapist works with their client to assess the approach most likely effective for their unique symptoms.  

Similarly, a good therapist also makes decisions about how the trauma-informed method needs to be implemented and adjusted to meet your needs.  

The therapist may use an eclectic approach (ie multiple types of therapies) to make the treatment plan as personalised as possible.  

The most common types of trauma therapy include: 

  • Prolonged Exposure (PE): Your therapist may methodically expose you to your fears until your reactions become neutral and controlled and until you are not afraid of them.  
  • Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT): This method involves challenging your perspective about why you experienced trauma and your beliefs about yourself that you may have developed after the incident.  
  • Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (TF-CBT): Therapists may use TF-CBT to help traumatised children and adolescents. Adults may also find this approach useful for addressing fallacious beliefs and harmful coping strategies. 
  • Eye movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR): This treatment uses rhythmic bilateral (left-right brain) stimulation to process and manage emotions that may have been influenced or repressed by trauma.  

PE and CPT are usually used as primary trauma therapies as their effectiveness has been proven extensively by clinicians. 

The duration of any type of trauma therapy differs based on the intensity of your suffering and the extent to which trauma influences your life and choices.  

Trauma therapies are effective in all types of mediums, including offline and online therapy in Malaysia.  

What Does Trauma Therapy Treat?

Although PTSD is a condition commonly associated with trauma, several other issues beyond PTSD are also related. 

These include conditions like depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, adverse childhood experiences (ACE), substance abuse, and dissociation.  

A traumatised person can experience one or more disorders in response to trauma. Trauma therapy can help in cases of co-morbidity, as well as to treat specific issues developed due to trauma (eg abandonment issues).  

Traditional therapy methods, such as acceptance and commitment therapy or solution-focused therapy, could help if you have depression or anxiety but have not experienced trauma.  

Other than the conditions mentioned above, trauma therapy can treat issues such as the following: 

  • Intergenerational trauma 
  • Trauma due to systemic oppression, such as colonisation 
  • Racism 
  • Unemployment or trauma due to poor economic backgrounds  
  • Terrorism or violence 
  • Addictions 
  • Homelessness 
  • Imprisonment 
  • Witnessing death or a traumatic incident 
Family fighting and a child sitting on the couch, ready to book a trauma therapy session

Benefits of Trauma Therapy

Trauma is complex and painful. Only you may understand what you are going through and may find it hard to express the intensity and complexity of your feelings.  

Repressing or hiding your feelings could lead to harmful coping mechanisms like self-harm, alcohol dependency, or excessive gambling.  

Hence, the sooner you start trauma-informed therapy, the sooner you may start to heal – in the right way and with the right kind of support.  

Below are some benefits you can gain from trauma therapy: 

  • Understand and heal from trauma in a healthy way 
  • Manage your emotions and reactions to triggers  
  • Reduce the physical impacts of trauma (eg palpitations) 
  • Refocus on the present 
  • Overcome addictions or negative behavioural patterns 
  • Improve relationships and rejoin communities 
  • Eliminate self-harm 
  • Recognise and cope with generational trauma 
  • Improve self-worth 

Reach out to TYHO Malaysian Therapists if you or your loved ones would like to heal from trauma. All our Therapists are open-minded and supportive. 

Overcoming trauma is not easy, but psychological interventions make healing accessible and life-changing.