What does a Trauma Therapist do?

Mary McMahon

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.

A trauma therapist helps to treat patients suffering from a traumatic event.
A trauma therapist helps to treat patients suffering from a traumatic event.

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.

Trauma therapists may focus on certain populations, such as returning soldiers.
Trauma therapists may focus on certain populations, such as returning soldiers.

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.

Trauma therapists might be trained to deal with the emotional toll of being diagnosed with a severe illness.
Trauma therapists might be trained to deal with the emotional toll of being diagnosed with a severe illness.

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.

A trauma therapist can intervene in tramatic situations to address psychological problems before they start.
A trauma therapist can intervene in tramatic situations to address psychological problems before they start.

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.

A trauma therapist may use art therapy to communicate with small children.
A trauma therapist may use art therapy to communicate with small children.

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