People experience trauma when the brain is unable to process a devastating event. Most people understandably strive to put traumatic events in their past, but forgetting about trauma doesn’t make it go away.
Repressing trauma instead of processing it prevents people from healing. People with unhealed trauma may react inappropriately to events that trigger emotions they experienced during the event. Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy aims to address these events to promote growth and healing.
Studies show that people who bottle up feelings related to traumatic events run the risk of developing serious behavior problems. These issues include mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. However, the most common issue that arises from not dealing with the emotions that traumatic events bring up is substance use. This is why many residential and inpatient addiction treatment centers use trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy for people who suffer from substance use.
Trauma-Informed Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
In terms of other therapy models, trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy is short-term. Clinical studies show that trauma-focused behavior therapy is effective. This is thanks, in part, to the fact that trauma behavioral therapy isn’t overly complex.
Many people can benefit from trauma-informed cognitive behavioral therapy. The focus is on the fact that psychological problems are based (at least partly) on mistaken ideas and learned behavior that is unhealthy. Trauma-focused CBT is all about finding coping methods for patients so that symptoms can be relieved. As a result, patients can better regulate their emotions.
When patients can better understand that their thought process is distorted, breakthroughs are possible. Trauma-focused CBT should give patients a safe space that allows them to better understand their behavior and motivations in their relationships.
Problem-solving skills are also enhanced so that patients can cope with challenging situations and build greater confidence in their own abilities. Trauma-focused CBT for adults helps people in regularly scheduled sessions. In addition, homework may be assigned that focuses on the patient’s current life—not what happened in the past.
This type of therapy is effective in treating substance use in adolescents because it involves the parents and the teen. The result is a type of therapy that helps the family better understand the underlying cause of substance use. Paired with other substance use addiction treatment programs, trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy can pave the way to recovery.
Addressing Symptoms and Issues
When using trauma-informed therapy, therapists set certain goals that they hope to achieve with each person. One goal is to focus on dismantling the thought patterns that have developed as a result of trauma. Beyond substance use, those with unresolved trauma can develop:
- Anger outbursts
- Mood swings
- Difficulty relaxing
Many of these symptoms leave individuals looking for a way to deal with the pain. They may act out or turn to drugs as a way of covering up the symptoms. Drugs give them a break from the pain. Focused behavior therapy addresses the underlying issue to break their need for drugs.
Understanding How Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Works
Trauma-focused CBT for adults works best when the therapist has set aside certain goals to achieve with a patient. Depending on the needs of the patient, the therapist holds group or individual sessions. In either case, therapists set goals such as:
- Reducing the sense of shame that a person feels as a result of trauma
- Helping the person understand that he or she isn’t to blame for the trauma
- Reducing trauma symptoms
- Stopping the person from acting out as a result of trauma
- Reducing distress
- Helping the family better understand how this trauma is affecting their loved one
The goals that therapists set vary depending on the needs of the individual. They don’t typically set these goals during the first session. It often takes time for therapists to get to know their patients and the trauma that they suffer from.
Let Crestview Recovery Help
Substance use brought on by trauma isn’t something that you or a loved one should deal with alone. Pretending that the trauma never happened often results in more issues later on. Crestview Recovery can help identify the underlying cause of substance use. After identifying the cause, our experts create a treatment plan that fits your personal needs.
Crestview Recovery offers a number of programs to help those who suffer from substance use. These programs include
- Partial hospitalization program (PHP)
- Intensive outpatient program (IOP)
- Outpatient drug rehab
- Rehab aftercare
- Exercise therapy program
Don’t fight mental illness or substance use on your own. Get the help that you need to get clean and stay clean. Your path to recovery starts with one phone call. Contact Crestview Recovery at 866.262.0531.
Since 2016, Dr. Merle Williamson, a graduate of Oregon Health Sciences University, has been the Medical Director at Crestview Recovery, bringing a rich background in addiction medicine from his time at Hazelden Treatment Center. He oversees outpatient drug and alcohol treatments, providing medical care, setting policies, detox protocols, and quality assurance measures. Before specializing in addiction medicine, he spent 25 years in anesthesiology, serving as Chair of Hospital Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee and Chief of Anesthesia at Kaiser Permanente. This experience gives him a unique perspective on treating prescription drug addiction.