Mental Health Part 4: What Does a Trauma-Informed Lens in PTSD Treatment Mean?

Mental Health Part 4: What Does a Trauma-Informed Lens in PTSD Treatment Mean?

As mental health care continues to develop and advance with new studies, research, and treatments arising in the modern world, professionals and psychiatrists are beginning to understand how to approach different mental health disorders. Specifically, in individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), having to recall memories of trauma and work through them can be challenging. However, with new developments in mental health treatment and approaches, a trauma-informed lens has proven useful for professionals in their approach to treating clients with PTSD.

What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

PTSD is a mental health disorder developed after an individual experiences or witnesses a traumatic event. This trauma can be a result of the following:

  • Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Divorce
  • Illness
  • Loss of employment
  • Any catastrophic event (i.e., car accident, combat, sexual assault, or any other kind of violence or crime)

Those struggling with PTSD may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Extreme responses to situations that remind one of the trauma
  • Avoidance of people or places that serve as reminders
  • Avoiding talking about the trauma or event
  • Feeling helpless
  • Having negative thoughts about others and the world
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Difficulty expressing positive emotions
  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Self-destructive behavior
  • Irritability
  • Rage
  • Feeling guilty
  • Shame

Gabor Mate and Childhood Trauma

Childhood trauma can be a significant component in the likelihood of developing PTSD. In Gabor Mate’s film, The Wisdom of Trauma, he discusses the effect of ACEs on an individual.

The Wisdom of Trauma reveals that trauma can shape the way an individual approaches life. This includes how they love, make sense of the world, and react to certain events. Childhood trauma, especially when gone unnoticed, can significantly impact adulthood. It can lead to the development of mental health disorders or substance use disorders (SUDs). 

Emotional stress translates to physical and mental chronic illnesses. Mate shares that a nurturing and caring environment is necessary for a healthy childhood and adulthood. Alongside an individual’s childhood, their environment – especially in a toxic, modern world – influences trauma and development through life.

Seeking Trauma-Informed Treatment

Some people may experience the effects of trauma days or weeks after the event. However, some individuals often do not experience the impact of their trauma until years after. Holding down a job, maintaining healthy personal relationships, and coping with social situations are some of the effects that may surface due to PTSD. 

Though the recovery and treatment process may be lifelong, seeking services for PTSD is beneficial in creating a more fulfilling life. Treating PTSD in its early stages also helps to prevent the development of other mental health disorders, such as anxiety or depression.

PTSD Through a Trauma-Informed Lens

In recent years, the approach to mental healthcare has seen advancements. When treating PTSD, many professionals have begun implementing a trauma-informed lens. This helps professionals understand their clients better and, in turn, offer more efficient services.

A trauma-informed lens pushes practitioners to realize, recognize, and respond to the prevalence and pervasive impact of trauma on their clients. This urges them to develop more trauma-sensitive and trauma-responsive services. It is particular to behavioral health services.

New specified types of care have developed due to this lens. Clients at risk for developing social, psychological, or other conditions due to trauma are recommended for selective prevention. Those who display early signs of trauma-related symptoms are recommended for indicated prevention.

Rather than “solving” issues and trauma, this lens works as means of prevention. In other words, this model guides clients to develop resilience, safety, skills in acknowledging and understanding the impact of their trauma, and the ability to address outside disorders that may have arisen due to PTSD.  

Trauma-Informed Treatment for PTSD at Roots Recovery

At Roots Recovery, specific therapies and services are implemented to provide this trauma-informed care model. These include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), seeking safety, and somatic experiencing. 

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

CBT is a therapy that focuses on exploring an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This therapy uncovers unhealthy thinking patterns in hopes of restructuring them. 

When understanding an individual’s thought process, it becomes easier to understand their behaviors and beliefs that may be self-destructive. In CBT sessions, a therapist works with the client to understand their thought process and behaviors. By doing this, the therapist can guide the client to restructure their thinking to be more constructive and healthy.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

EMDR is a therapy that replaces negative emotional reactions to difficult memories with more positive ones. This process is done through repetitive eye movements for 20-30 seconds, stimulating the brain with back-and-forth eye movements and recalling a traumatic event. Once the event is remembered, a therapist works with the client to understand the traumatic event and develop more positive reactions or beliefs.

Seeking Safety

Seeking safety is a counseling tool to help clients attain safety from their trauma. The program offers 25 topics that encourage safe coping mechanisms among individuals. The goals of this program are:

  • For a client to attain safety (in their relationships, thinking, behavior, and emotions)
  • To provide integrated treatment as it brings both substance abuse and trauma into one program
  • Focus on ideals to contrast with any loss from trauma or substance abuse
  • Focus on cognitive, behavioral, interpersonal, and case management together
  • Provide attention to clinician processes (self-care, clinician emotional responses, etc.)

Somatic Experiencing

Somatic experiencing is a body-oriented approach to healing trauma and stress where it releases traumatic shock. The wounds of emotional trauma, specifically when someone is “stuck,” are released. This approach helps understand the root of trauma symptoms. A therapist works with the client in developing tolerance to complex bodily sensations and suppressed emotions.

Here at Roots Recovery, we work to implement modern research and treatment approaches to mental health into our programs. Lately, a trauma-informed lens for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has surfaced, where professionals and therapists work with their clients to realize, recognize, and respond to the prevalence and pervasive impact of trauma. At Roots Recovery, we use this approach in our cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), seeking safety, and somatic experiencing services. We work to understand our client’s trauma and guide them in developing healthy coping mechanisms to manifest a fulfilling life. For more information on how Roots Recovery treats trauma, call us today at (562) 473-0827.

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