Have you experienced a trauma in your life? Are you looking for relief? One solution is CBT for trauma, also known as cognitive behavioral therapy. This solutions-focused approach can help you understand how trauma has affected you and recover well.
CBT for Trauma #1: An Opportunity for Discussion
Cognitive behavioral therapy is an opportunity to discuss what you are experiencing and how trauma is impacting your life. Of course, in the beginning, it may be hard for you to talk about these issues. Yet it’s important that you do. You will be in an emotionally safe place with your therapist who can work with you to understand how trauma is impacting your life.
CBT for Trauma #2: Focusing on the Problem
CBT for trauma means that you and your therapist focus on specific problems associated with trauma. For instance:
- Feeling anxious in public places.
- Getting upset quickly.
- Always needing to be alert and “on edge.”
- Avoiding certain places, situations, or people because of trauma.
The advantage of cognitive behavioral therapy is that you focus on these and other trauma-related problems in order to discover solutions.
CBT for Trauma #3: Understanding Your Feelings
When you are placed in these situations, you may feel a range of emotions from anger to sadness to anxiety. You may not always be able to identify the emotions, but you know you don’t feel right. CBT for trauma will help you better understand your feelings and thoughts when in these situations by engaging in dialogue with your therapist. This will help you understand why you feel these emotions as they happen.
CBT for Trauma #4: Identifying Thought Patterns
As you and your therapist work to understand your feelings, you both will be able to identify thought patterns that are either negative or just inaccurate. For example, you might discover during therapy that feeling that you are in danger all of the time in crowded spaces is negative and inaccurate. There is no objective danger if you are in a crowd, and becoming stressed-out over it only has a negative impact on you. Note that this is different from saying your emotions are wrong, as this is not the case. It just means that beliefs that cause the anxiety are not aligned with the reality of the situation.
CBT for Trauma #5: Creating New Thinking Patterns
Once you have identified these patterns, you and your therapist can work together to create new, more positive thought patterns. Using the example above you can:
- Identify that you are having an emotional reaction to being in a crowd
- Ask yourself why you are having this feeling
- Challenge your beliefs, “Is there really any danger here?”
- Create a new thought process that recognizes you are safe
CBT for Trauma #6: Learning How to Relax
A part of cognitive behavioral therapy is learning how to relax and manage stress. This includes:
- Breathing exercises
- Creating art
- Writing or journaling
The idea is that you have options in your “bag of tricks" when you feel stressed.
CBT for Trauma #7: Feeling Understood
Often, people who have experienced trauma in their lives feel alone. They believe that no-one understands where they are coming from. This is very isolating. However, participating in cognitive behavioral therapy with a therapist helps you realize that someone else “gets it.” This lifts that burden of isolation off your shoulders so that you can begin to recover.
Unfortunately, trauma affects many people in one way or another over the course of a lifetime. Yet, this doesn’t have to be a lifelong burden. By participating in CBT for trauma and allowing the cognitive behavioral therapy process to work, you can find recovery from trauma and experience lasting healing in your life.