Treating Trauma and PTSD at AspenRidge Recovery

The term trauma may bring to mind Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), commonly known due to the soldiers who experience PTSD after returning from combat. However, trauma does not strictly refer to PTSD.

Not all who experience a traumatic event develop PTSD. Rather, there are various types of trauma, including psychological trauma, emotional trauma, and childhood trauma.

Various forms of trauma affect millions in the United States every year, at varying times in their lives.

  • 60% of adults are reported to have experienced some form of childhood trauma, usually familial abuse or other experiences
  • 26% of children are exposed to a traumatic event before the age of four
  • 40% of children in the United States have experienced physical assault in the past year
  • 25% of adolescents witnessed or were victims of a robbery or violent act

These are just a few of the many trauma-related statistics available in just the United States alone. These statistics do not take into account children who grow up in impoverished third world countries or who live in war zones. Trauma takes many forms and is experienced by people worldwide, of every age, socioeconomic status, race, religion, sex, gender, and nationality.

Trauma does not discriminate.

What is Psychological Trauma? What is PTSD? And What is the Difference Between Psychological Trauma and PTSD?

A traumatic event is any situation that threatens the physical or emotional well-being of an individual and causes severe distress. The Greek origin of the word "trauma" means "physical wound." Trauma no longer refers strictly to wounds, though; today psychologists and therapists refer to trauma as something that affects an individual's psyche, or psychological trauma.

Trauma, PTSD, and Addiction

Psychological trauma and emotional trauma can result from either witnessing or experiencing a number of different events, such as:

  • Emotional, physical, or sexual abuse
  • Military combat
  • Invasive or violent crimes
  • Suicide of a loved one
  • Severe drug or alcohol addiction
  • Automobile accidents
  • Natural disasters

Experiencing a traumatic event triggers the "fight or flight" response in the brain, a natural response to a threat to well-being intended to protect you from harm. Many people are able to recover from the experience of a traumatic event which instigates either psychological trauma or emotional trauma. They are able to recover naturally over time, without treatment for trauma.

However, others are unable to recover from the psychological trauma or emotional trauma. They continue to experience symptoms of this fight or flight response in everyday situations which may impact their ability to function. Those whose symptoms interfere with their ability to maintain relationships or manage their day to day life may be diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, more commonly known as PTSD. These individuals usually require trauma treatment.

The symptom requirements to be diagnosed with PTSD are:

  • One or more re-experiencing symptom (where the emotional or psychological trauma is relived or dreamed about)
  • One or more avoidance symptom (where situations are avoided directly as a result of the psychological or emotional trauma)
  • Two or more arousal and reactivity symptoms (emotional or psychological trauma causes anxiety, nervousness, or tenseness)
  • Two or more cognition and mood symptoms (psychological or emotional trauma causes a distorted view of the world or people within it, or a loss of pleasure in activities)

Signs of PTSD may occur as soon as within 3 months of the traumatic event while others do not display symptoms until years afterward. There is no time constraint on the diagnosis of PTSD. Signs and symptoms must persist for at least a month in order to be diagnosed as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Some people are able to recover within a few months, also known as acute PTSD. Some develop pervasive symptoms that require trauma treatment and various forms of trauma therapy, categorized as chronic PTSD.

Trauma treatment for PTSD can include different forms of trauma therapy, like:

  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR therapy)
  • Cognitive processing therapy
  • Equine-assisted therapy
  • Inner Child therapy
  • Family systems therapy

What is the Relationship Between Trauma and Addiction? What About PTSD and Addiction?

When people who experience either an emotional trauma, psychological trauma, or childhood trauma do not receive treatment for trauma, they may turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Addiction and trauma are commonly linked as substances help to ease the pain of the trauma.

By getting drunk or high, traumatized individuals are able to "numb out" and not feel the impact of the traumatic event. Addiction and trauma are especially common in those with PTSD as the numbness can help alleviate many of the chronic symptoms. What works as a quick fix in the short run, though, often leads to major complications in the long run.

When people combine addiction and trauma, the emotions and responses are never processed properly.

This leads to heavy substance abuse and often substance dependence and the problems compound one another. If you stop using drugs and alcohol for even a day, the symptoms of the psychological trauma, emotional trauma, childhood trauma, or PTSD come flooding back more than before as your coping mechanism is gone.

As the substance dependence progresses, you will now need treatment for trauma AND addiction. Separately they are difficult beasts to manage, but when you combine the two it makes life incredibly difficult to manage. Trauma treatment can help.

What Types of Treatment for Trauma and PTSD are Available?

Those who struggle with trauma and addiction are especially in need of treatment for trauma and that is where AspenRidge Recovery comes in. AspenRidge specializes in trauma treatment with various forms of trauma therapy to help individuals with emotional trauma, childhood trauma, psychological trauma, and PTSD.

AspenRidge Recovery provides multiple forms of therapy for trauma treatment and PTSD treatment. Outlined below are a few of the trauma treatment options available at our 90-day program.

EMDR therapy is specifically for those who experienced traumatic events that developed into psychological trauma, emotional trauma, childhood trauma, and PTSD. Through the use of rapid eye movement stimulation, EMDR therapy momentarily reopens these painful experiences but encourages proper healing of the situation.

Through working with a trained therapist or psychologist, EMDR therapy can help you reprocess the traumatic memories and allow your brain to heal properly. It gives you the opportunity to see that you survived the events and are a strong individual, rather than living as a victim of circumstance.

Cognitive processing therapy is intended specifically for individuals who struggle with acute or chronic PTSD. It has the most evidence as an effective form of PTSD therapy through the use of talk therapy. By working with a therapist to change your thoughts about the event you are thus able to change how you feel about the event.

Cognitive processing therapy provides those in need of PTSD therapy with the tools to readjust their processing of the traumatic event. It gives you the opportunity to change your perspective on the trauma which led to PTSD in the first place.

Through cognitive processing therapy, you can reevaluate the facts about the event and determine whether your resulting thought process is justified. Cognitive processing therapy takes place in a safe environment with a trained professional in order to achieve the best results.

Equine-assisted therapy is a fantastic supplemental form of treatment for trauma, used in combination with talk therapy or other forms of trauma therapy. Equine-assisted therapy uses activities with horses, such as horseback riding, equine-assisted learning, and psychotherapy through caring for the horses.

Equine-assisted therapy can help teach cooperation through working with the horses and with the rest of the group. By having an animal rely on you to receive care, you can learn responsibility and accountability. Equine-assisted therapy with the use of therapists and psychologists can also help individuals to process their childhood trauma, emotional trauma, psychological trauma, or PTSD.

Little research exists around equine-assisted therapy which is why it is suggested to complement rather than supplement traditional forms of therapy. However, equine-assisted therapy has been shown to help those who struggle with trauma or PTSD as horses can be a calming presence.

Inner Child therapy is a form of psychotherapy that works especially well for victims of childhood trauma. When you are a child, you have little control over the events that surround you. When your childhood is filled with chaos, violence, abuse, or other distressing events, the impact of childhood trauma can carry into adulthood.

Inner Child therapy focuses on the childlike aspects within yourself as an adult. With the help of a therapist or psychologist, you will revert back to childhood memories as an adult who provides a caring presence for yourself as a child. If there were no adults present to care for you, your adult self cares for your child self.

Childhood trauma can be addressed and overcome through the use of Inner Child therapy. However, it is best practiced with a trained and licensed professional. When childhood trauma is a part of your story, the emotional and psychological impact can be great. The support of a knowledgeable therapist will help Inner Child therapy produce the best results.

Family systems therapy is based on the family systems theory from Murray Bowen. Bowen explained that individuals are closely linked through a network of relationships. This is especially true for victims of trauma and PTSD who need treatment for trauma. Having supportive relationships is imperative during recovery from emotional trauma, psychological trauma, childhood trauma, or PTSD.

During family systems therapy, your family is brought in and a session is held, while the therapist determines the family dynamics. They look for the ways that each member of the family treats the others and considers the impact on your development.

Through multiple family systems therapy sessions as a family unit, you, your parents, and your siblings will work together to repair maladapted interpersonal relations. Bowen focuses especially on the development and differentiation of the self, where you are allowed your own feelings, emotions, and path in life.

Oftentimes family dynamics involve heavy codependency or swing to the opposite end and result in detachment. Through family systems therapy, you can work with your family to mend broken relationships or adjust unhealthy ones.

If you have little or no relationship with your family, your therapist may instead work through familial dynamics on an individual basis. Though results will not be as whole as they would if your entire family were there, they can help you adjust your thinking and understanding of your place in your family.

Is Trauma Therapy Effective in Treating Psychological Trauma, Emotional Trauma, Childhood Trauma, and PTSD?

Much of the research surrounding the effectiveness of trauma treatment is in regards to PTSD. Especially with events such as the September 11th attacks, the various wars that have taken place, and the effects of Hurricane Katrina, researchers have had plenty of opportunities to assess the impact of PTSD treatment.

Two of the most effective forms of therapy for PTSD are available at AspenRidge Recovery: EMDR therapy and cognitive processing therapy. By reprocessing the memories associated with the trauma you are able to reframe your perception. Talk therapy as a form of trauma treatment has shown to be effective when dealing with not only PTSD but emotional trauma, psychological trauma, and childhood trauma.

Are you struggling to manage your feelings about traumatic events in your past? Suffering from the impact of trauma can be scary and isolating, especially when you relive the memories on a regular basis. If you are ready to seek help, AspenRidge Recovery can help. We specialize in trauma therapy and trauma treatment. Our caring team will assess your condition, especially when you are dealing with trauma and addiction, and determine the course of treatment which will be most beneficial.

Eliminate the feelings of isolation and fear at AspenRidge Recovery and take back control of your life. Do not allow trauma and addiction to rule over you forever. Take the first step today to find out the options available to you and how we can help.