Exposure to trauma as a witness or victim can be debilitating regardless of one’s emotional strength. The extreme nature of traumatic events can cause life-long emotional discomfort if left untreated. Guilt, shame, and fear of being judged are just a few reasons that it is difficult for those who have experienced trauma to ask for help. Trauma left untreated can lead to self-destructive ways of coping such as suicidal thoughts, self-harm, drug addiction, and eating disorders.
Trauma Psychotherapy can be intimidating for those that are not familiar with the process and are unsure of what to expect. “Talking alone does not resolve difficulties or trauma” states Dr. Jerry Grosso, Clinical Director at Nsight Psychology & Addiction in Newport Beach California. Understanding how trauma psychotherapy works and a clear expectation of what resolution looks like are essential to overcoming the emotional distress caused by trauma.
A common misconception is that utilization of psychotherapy to resolve trauma entails a long term process with no clear outcome. Unfortunately this belief can discourage those from beginning therapy or someone might remain in therapy that proves to be unproductive. Consider the following before engaging in treatment to resolve the devastating effects of trauma.
- What does resolution look like? Treatment should begin with a goal to set expectations and explore what life will look like at the conclusion of therapy.
- How long will it take? Does overcoming trauma take years of intensive pain filled psychotherapy or can duration of treatment be determined by the clinical approach along with clear expectations of what resolution looks like?
- Severe medical issues may require surgery and one is left with a scar but also the opportunity to heal. Is trauma any different?
Overcoming trauma through psychotherapy begins with recognition of who I am as person, before the trauma occurred. Dr. Grosso notes that “Too often people identify so much with the trauma it becomes their identity, failing to recognize that trauma is something experienced and not who they are.” Knowing their strengths, personal characteristics and who they are as a person before the trauma occurred is essential. This will help to distinguish that trauma is something experienced but not the individual.
Emotional distress is common with trauma and often includes feelings of depression, anger, frustration, anxiety, guilt, and shame. Many feelings are connected to thoughts about the trauma that are considered to be true but may be distorted. For example, most trauma survivors believe that they could have prevented or not been exposed to the traumatic event if they had done something different. While the thought appears to be logical it is deceptive as there are multiple factors outside the control of the victim that influenced the event directly or indirectly that may not have been not been considered. Effective trauma psychotherapy goes beyond empathy and understanding and addresses the cognitive distortions that reinforce emotional distress caused by trauma.
Physical and emotional pain resulting from trauma can either lead to a pattern of re-victimization or the development of personal strength. Professional trauma psychotherapy is an essential component to the resolution of emotional distress caused by trauma and can be instrumental in transforming pain and suffering into personal growth. Resolution, resilience, and recovery are fundamental goals of trauma focused psychotherapy and should be clearly defined as part of a treatment plan. Engaging in trauma psychotherapy is a giant step to healing and emotional growth. It can be anxiety provoking but also facilitates healing in a manner that will create hope and positive change.
When seeking treatment for trauma, work with a licensed Masters or Doctorate Level Professional in the Mental Health Professional that specializes in Trauma Focused Therapy and consider a structured trauma focused treatment program when individual therapy is not enough.
Nsight Psychology & Addiction’s staff of professionals can help your loved one with treatment for Trauma/PTSD, Depression, Anxiety, Substance Abuse, and Alcoholism. Contact Nsight Psychology & Addiction at 888-557-8091 to learn more. Nsight Psychology & Addiction has locations in Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, and Santa Ana, California but most of our clients travel from out of state to take part in our programs.
Dr. Gerald “Jerry” Grosso is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over 20 years of experience assisting individuals and families struggling with addiction, depression and trauma. He obtained his Bachelors of Arts degree in Psychology from San Diego State University before enrolling in Chapman University where he acquired a Master of Arts degree in Psychology. Dr. Grosso continued his education and received a Doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology with a Specialty in treating Chemical Dependency. He holds a professional membership with the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT).