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What does a Trauma Therapist do?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 02 December 2016
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A trauma therapist is a mental health professional who provides assistance to people who have experienced psychological trauma. Trauma therapists help people process traumatic experiences and develop coping methods for dealing with the aftermath of trauma, with the eventual goal of achieving psychological stability for the patient. People who specialize in trauma therapy may pursue specialized certifications to offer the best services to their clients and trauma therapists can work in a wide variety of settings.

Trauma can take a number of forms. Psychological trauma can be the result of intense physical or emotional experiences, prolonged exposure to psychologically unhealthy environments, and many other things. People may be referred to a trauma therapist by another health care provider, or may seek out a therapist on their own because they are having difficulty managing their psychological health after a traumatic experience.

The trauma therapist works with the patient to identify the source of the trauma and examine contributing factors, such as existing mental illness and past experiences. This information is used to help the patient work through the trauma in group and solo sessions, using a variety of psychological techniques. This can include talk therapy, occupational therapy, art therapy, and many other types of therapy. The approach is customized to the client and can include consultation with other mental health providers if the therapist thinks it is necessary.

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Trauma therapy can help people address post traumatic stress disorder, depression, and many other complications of trauma. People who are having difficulty with tasks of daily living may benefit from working with a therapist to identify areas of difficulty and address them, and therapy can help people get back to work. Some people never fully recover from trauma and need to see a therapist for life to address problems as they arise, while others may be able to become well-adjusted after a series of therapy sessions.

In addition to providing ongoing trauma treatment, a trauma therapist can also intervene in traumatic situations to address psychological problems before they start. People who experience trauma on the job may be encouraged to see a therapist for debriefing and decompression, and trauma therapists also meet with accident victims and other people who have experienced physical trauma to help them process the experience as they go through treatment. Rapid intervention by a trauma therapist in traumatic situations can improve patient outcomes and reduce the need for future therapy to process and address the trauma.

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