Trauma-Focused and Trauma-Informed Therapy...
what is it?
Trauma-informed care is a modern approach to therapy which centers on the understanding that trauma or any negative, adverse life events can have long-lasting emotional, neurological, psychological, social, and biological effects on a person. Therapy is “informed” by these past experiences, with a strong sense of empathy from the therapist.
For many people, experiences from childhood end up impacting their mental health even if they seem unrelated to present problems. Trauma that goes untreated will continue to hinder emotional, social, and even physical health.
Trauma-informed care is unique as it reimagines the client-therapist relationship. The therapist is not an authority figure, but instead a partner. They work alongside their clients providing support throughout their journey of healing and growth.
A trauma-informed approach incorporates three key elements:
Realizing the prevalence of trauma
Recognizing how trauma affects all humans
Responding by putting this knowledge into practice
At WellBeings we train our therapists to use the five guiding principles of trauma-informed care so that any and every interaction is mindful and aware.
At the core of Trauma-informed Care is “Primum non nocere,” which translates from Latin as “First, do no harm.” When the five principles of trauma-informed care are adhered to, the client’s well-being always comes first. They are not harmed further or re-traumatized by working on their past.
When a person begins to open up and talk about past traumatic experiences with their therapist, just talking can bring up the emotion of their original trauma. Re-traumatization occurs when the client consciously or unconsciously re-experiences a traumatic event from their past.
Re-traumatization can be caused by stressors (or triggers) that might be similar to the original trauma’s circumstances or environment. A particular smell, physical space, lighting, imagery, taste, or any element that mimics a previously traumatic experience can lead to re-traumatization.
When providing trauma-informed care, each practitioner must consider how their physical presence, stature, posture, volume, tone, smell, and demeanor might come across to their client. An essential part of trauma-informed care is being mindful of what the therapists' presence might be bringing up for another person based on their past experiences.
We want our clients to feel safe to speak up and tell their therapist what they need and how they feel in the room with them.
Trauma-informed care adheres to these five principles and ensures an individual's emotional and physical safety throughout therapy.
It may seem obvious, but unfortunately, it is not to some. When working with clients who may have experienced any level of trauma, assurance of their emotional and physical safety is first and foremost. We do this by making sure your privacy is protected, establishing healthy boundaries and abiding by the other principles below.
Our therapists must be able to show you they are trustworthy and work to earn your trust. Feeling safe enough to open up and become vulnerable is an important component of successful therapy. Consistent boundaries and clear expectations of the service experience are great examples of how we try to show we are worthy of trust—no surprises or curveballs.
Many of our clients have spent a significant amount of time feeling out of control in their lives. We will empower you to make active choices in your treatment. These options could include deciding the length of therapy, treatment modality and what to work on in therapy. Each session, we will give you options about how to work on your goals and you can choose what feels best for you that session.
Trauma-informed care is genuinely a collaboration between you and your therapist. It is not a strict protocol with defined rules but relies more on empathy and intuition. It looks different for everyone because everyone has different experiences. We also warmly welcome your feedback and ideas about what you feel may work best for you or when you are ready to move into deeper trauma work.
This approach to treatment empowers our clients to discover and build on existing strengths. You will develop healthier coping skills and, ultimately, a more solid foundation you can fall back on when needed in the future. Trauma-informed care promotes resilience and provides the hope that healing is possible.
WHAT TO EXPECT
At WellBeings, we believe that our culture reflects what we consider to be essential. We dedicate ourselves to the principles of trauma-informed care.
Our therapy focuses on understanding the complex and nuanced effects of trauma on anyone seeking therapy. During therapy sessions at WellBeings your therapist will help you identify any beliefs, emotions and body sensations that you have that are directly related to the traumatic events and/or adverse life events you have experienced. Your therapist will then help you uproot what's keeping you stuck to move forward in your healing journey.
Working through your past experiences is a step towards a better future. Reach out to us to learn more about how our services can help you understand and work through your life trauma.
See below for more information about specific trauma-focused therapies we offer.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy
EMDR is not a traditional talk-therapy like most other psychotherapies; it's more of a mindfulness-based therapy. EMDR is an empirically supported (well-researched), and structured model of psychotherapeutic treatment that involves working with memories, body sensations, negative beliefs, and emotions which are remnants of painful past experiences. EMDR therapy is based on the adaptive information processing (AIP) model which theorizes that our minds have a natural capacity to process what happens to us in a healthy and adaptive way. However, significantly stressful experiences can overwhelm the brain’s natural processing and healing capacity. When the information related to a particularly stressful occurrence is inadequately processed, the initial perceptions can be stored essentially as they were originally encoded, along with any distorted thoughts, images, sensations, or perceptions experienced when it happened. We can think of this as being stuck or frozen in the past without being conscious of it! Thus, in EMDR, the culprit fueling mental health issues is unprocessed, inadequately digested memories stored in the brain and body.
EMDR works by stimulating the brain using bilateral stimulation to help it to process unresolved memories, leading to a natural restoration and adaptive resolution, decreased emotional charge (desensitization, or the “D” of EMDR), and linkage to positive memory networks (reprocessing, or the “R” of EMDR). EMDR helps people address and work through past memories, sensations, and emotions and resume normal, adaptive, and healthy processing. An experience that may have triggered a negative response may no longer affect them the way it used to after EMDR treatment. Difficult experiences will likely become less upsetting.
Integrating the body
Somatic therapy is a form of body-centered therapy that looks at the connection of mind and body and uses both psychotherapy and physical therapies for holistic healing. In addition to talk therapy, somatic therapy practitioners use mind-body exercises and other physical techniques to help release body distress that is negatively affecting their physical and emotional wellbeing. Somatic therapists know the stress of past emotional and traumatic events impact the central nervous system and cause changes in the brain and body. By helping clients develop awareness of the mind-body connection they can teach you how to release the muscular holding patterns, physical and emotional pain that remain in your body from these past negative experiences.
The therapist will help you revive memories of traumatic experiences and pays attention to any physical responses you have once the memory is recovered. Physical techniques, such as deep breathing, relaxation exercises, and meditation are then used to help relieve symptoms. Some of the adjunctive physical techniques that may be used with somatic therapy include dance, exercise, yoga, vocal work, massage and other types of movement. EMDR is considered a somatic therapy.
Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
As its name implies TF-CBT is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy that addresses the specific emotional and mental health needs of children, adolescents, adult survivors, and families who are struggling to overcome the effects of trauma. Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) is especially sensitive to the unique problems of youth with post-traumatic stress and mood disorders resulting from abuse, violence, grief, etc. Because the client is usually a child, TF-CBT often brings non-offending parents or other caregivers into treatment and incorporates principles of family therapy.
Cognitive behavioral techniques are used to help modify distorted or unhelpful thinking, negative reactions and behaviors. At the same time, a family therapy approach looks at interactions among family members and other family dynamics that are contributing to the problem and aims to teach new parenting, stress-management, and communication skills.