Effective Treatment Modalities for Treating Trauma and PTSD

Trauma is a well-known risk factor for mental health disorders and substance use disorder (SUD). Many traumatic events shake an individual’s perception of themselves and the world around them to their core. This shift in perception can trigger lasting consequences for a person’s mental, emotional, and physical health. Therefore, to effectively heal from mental health disorders or addiction, a person must acknowledge and overcome their past trauma using professional assistance. Moreover, when individuals learn about effective treatment modalities for treating trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), this can help them advocate for themselves. At 12 South Recovery, we specialize in the treatment of mental health disorders and addiction. Our primary goal is to help individuals discover and overcome the root causes of their condition so that they can live worthwhile and purposeful lives in sobriety. We recognize that trauma is an undeniable risk factor for all mental and behavioral health issues. For this reason, we are committed to providing an array of modalities and interventions for treating trauma and PTSD.

Warning Signs of Trauma and Emotional Distress

Before an individual participates in treatment for trauma and/or PTSD, it can be beneficial for them to identify warning signs and symptoms of unresolved trauma. Learning and Identifying warning signs can help individuals to better recognize when professional support or guidance is needed.

Simply put, any recurrent symptoms of emotional distress can indicate the presence of unresolved trauma. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) highlights the following warning signs of emotional distress:

  • Irregular eating habits (overeating or not eating enough)
  • Issues with sleep (sleeping too much or not sleeping enough)
  • Experiencing little to no energy throughout the day
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Experiencing physical aches and pains without an identifiable cause
  • Engaging in excessive substance use
  • Experiencing excessive worrying and anxiety
  • Suicidal ideation

Trauma, Substance Use Disorder, and Mental Health Disorders

In addition to understanding these warning signs, it is helpful for individuals to understand the link between unresolved trauma and mental health disorders. Enduring any situation or circumstance that poses a threat to an individual’s health and well-being can be identified as traumatic. Likewise, as mentioned earlier, the effects of traumatic experiences are often long-lasting. The effects also often interfere with an individual’s ability to function normally in their daily life.

To cope with traumatic events, many individuals will adopt maladaptive behaviors, including self-medicating practices. Self-medicating is defined as using alcohol and other drugs in an attempt to treat, manage, or resolve emotional distress. Unfortunately, self-medicating practices not only mask the underlying problem but also tend to trigger the development of SUD.

Similarly, chronic emotional distress from unresolved trauma can also inform the development of mental health disorders. Thus, when working to attain symptom management with any mental health disorder, individuals must also be willing to heal from the trauma of their past. Fortunately, many effective modalities are available for treating trauma and PTSD.

Treating Trauma and PTSD

Every treatment facility will offer different modalities and interventions for treating trauma and PTSD. The effectiveness of each modality will vary based on an individual’s trauma history as well as their current mental state. Thus, understanding what treatment options are available can be helpful as it can allow clients and professionals to narrow down modalities based on client preferences and needs.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

Arguably one of the most valuable forms of evidence-based treatment for trauma and PTSD is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR is a method used in psychotherapy that is designed to help clients heal from chronic emotional distress related to past trauma. At 12 South Recovery, EMDR is one of our specialties.

During sessions, a therapist will ask the client to bring to their mind a traumatic memory while focusing on a visual stimulus provided by the therapist. A common stimulus is the therapist’s finger, which will slowly move back and forth in front of the client’s eyes as they remember their traumatic memory. Research has shown that focusing on traumatic memories in brief, sequential doses can reduce the emotional toll that such events carry. In turn, this type of focusing allows the client to effectively process the memory and consider alternative solutions.

EMDR sessions often last 60-90 minutes and occur in eight phases, focusing on the past, present, and future. This therapy has not only shown promise for treating trauma and PTSD but also for treating panic attacks, eating disorders, anxiety, and addictions.

Trauma-Informed Yoga

Another modality that is valuable for treating trauma and PTSD is yoga; not just any form of yoga, but specifically trauma-informed yoga. According to an article by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA):

Trauma-informed yoga is an approach that requires a safe and supportive environment. It recognizes that trauma can have profound effects on both the mind and body, and traditional yoga classes may not always be suitable or accessible for individuals with trauma histories.

Trauma-informed yoga programs emphasize slow, restorative body movements that help participants gently reconnect with their bodies. Meanwhile, in-person classes foster a sense of community in recovery, allowing individuals to also connect with others who are also working to overcome trauma from their past.

Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a popular psychotherapy approach used to help clients address the connections between their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. More specifically, CBT helps clients identify and change maladaptive thought patterns to influence healthier behavior.

Similarly, trauma-focused CBT (TF-CBT) helps clients in reducing trauma-related symptoms by restructuring intrusive or otherwise maladaptive thought patterns and associated behavior. According to a research review published in Psychiatric Services, “To help children and adolescents develop coping skills, treatment providers teach relaxation skills, affective modulation skills, and cognitive coping skills. In addition, TF-CBT uses exposure principles and cognitive-restructuring techniques that are specific to the traumatic experience.” Thus, TF-CBT is certainly a modality to consider when seeking healing from trauma.

Unresolved trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often underlie substance use disorder (SUD), addiction, and other mental health disorders. Therefore, when seeking treatment for any of those conditions, it is imperative to explore and overcome any unresolved trauma from your past to establish effective recovery. Fortunately, there are many effective treatment modalities available for treating trauma and PTSD. These include eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), trauma-informed yoga, and trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (TF-CBT). At 12 South Recovery, we stand by the power of EMDR for treating trauma. Other modalities can also be incorporated into your individualized treatment plan. We offer several outpatient programs to meet you where you are at in your healing journey. Learn more by calling (888) 830-8374.

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