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Alternative Trauma Therapy

Trauma has the power to have lasting repercussions on both body and mind, altering mood and relationships in profound ways. Therapy can help integrate traumatic experiences while offering strategies to cope with them more effectively.

Talk therapies can be an integral component of trauma treatment, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which challenges unhelpful thought patterns and prolonged exposure (PE), which involves gradually approaching memories or situations that trigger symptoms over time.

Somatic Experiencing (SE)

Peter Levine developed this body-centered alternative trauma therapy as a solution to trauma storage, which often leads to emotional distress. Through bodywork techniques such as body scans and massage, this method helps release tension by activating natural healing mechanisms in the body – often used for treating PTSD and related stress-related disorders.

Practitioners of SE believe that traumatizing experiences can trigger a hyperreaction from our bodies’ stress response system, leaving the autonomic nervous system stuck in an alert state for too long, leading to physical symptoms like tension, pain and an inability to relax. Though these responses were designed as protective mechanisms against trauma or injury occurring again, overreaction often overwhelms it and eventually shuts down altogether causing dissociation between oneself and one’s own body resulting in feelings of alienation from your own self-identity and disconnection between body parts or parts being held within.

SE practitioners believe that one key to healing trauma lies in allowing the body to release stored up energy through pendulation, or shifting back and forth between resourcing (focusing on peaceful bodily state) and remembering traumatic experiences. Therapists aid clients by tracking bodily sensations and movements as well as dissecting memories into individual components like an unpleasant bodily sensation or positive emotion.

This approach is unique because it addresses both mind-body relationships and physical symptoms related to trauma and stress, such as reduced symptoms of PTSD and depression in randomized controlled trials.

But researchers caution that current SE research is limited and more rigorous studies must be conducted to ascertain its efficacy. They suggest the creation of a standard therapeutic manual could reduce heterogeneity among studies and enhance research quality on this approach; furthermore they advocate conducting more trials with large sample sizes and high methodological standards in future investigations of SE.

Body-Centered Psychotherapy (BCP)

Somatic therapy is used to treat trauma and stress-related disorders. This approach takes an holistic approach by considering your body’s emotional reactions and physical manifestations of stressors in order to increase self-awareness, promote resilience and support healing. Techniques such as breathing exercises, movement and touch are used to release pent-up tension and trauma thus aiding emotional recovery and aiding emotional wellbeing.

BCP differs from more traditional talk therapies in that it pays attention to both physical and emotional responses when triggers are activated, and helps you learn to recognize, reframe and experience trauma safely without threat or fear resurfacing. By doing this, symptoms such as dissociation or flashbacks may decrease or disappear altogether.

Somatic therapies have been proven effective through scientific research, showing they can relieve symptoms associated with anxiety and depression while attenuating trauma-related distress. Yet more study must be conducted into their mechanisms of action and how these therapies may be combined with other treatments to address trauma-related stressors as well as mental health challenges.

One of the main theories behind these techniques is that your brain and body communicate on two separate, yet interdependent pathways; your body affects and controls your brain while your mind can also impact physical responses to stressors in response. This phenomenon is known as body-mind connectivity.

Another way of looking at it is that your body acts as a repository for emotions and experiences that you no longer directly experience. When confronted by emotionally distressful or stressful experiences, your entire system engages in protecting itself against potential danger, making it hard for you to access those feelings consciously. BCP provides training for you to recognize and process any leftover memories so you can reframe responses more quickly so as to enable healing from such experiences more swiftly.

Researchers conducted an in-depth analysis of 83 articles covering different therapeutic approaches, such as BCP and Somatic Experiencing. They grouped these therapies according to whether they involved touch (tactile involvement). Furthermore, they explored definitions, quality of empirical evidence available and proposed or known mechanisms.

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) is an evidence-based psychotherapy designed for children and adolescents who have experienced trauma, although adults can also benefit from its implementation. TF-CBT combines elements of regular CBT with trauma-specific components in order to help people cope with its impacts and decrease PTSD symptoms.

TF-CBT is a short-term intervention, lasting typically 8-20 sessions. If interested, those interested should speak to their physician or therapist in order to determine if this approach might be right for them – including whether or not TF-CBT might be covered through their medical insurance provider or could be provided privately.

TF-CBT is an evidence-based treatment comprised of various phases and components, which includes:

Psychoeducation clients learn about common reactions to trauma, how trauma impacts thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and ways to manage distressing or unhelpful responses. Relaxation Techniques teach clients relaxation techniques for anxiety relief such as breathing exercises and mindfulness meditation; Cognitive Restructuring Therapists help identify and challenge unhelpful or distorted thoughts related to the trauma; replacing them with more balanced and adaptive thoughts.

Exposure and Reprocessing Clients in this stage are offered an opportunity to share their traumatic experiences in a safe therapeutic setting while learning coping mechanisms from therapy sessions with us. They may be encouraged to participate in memory work that includes visual or auditory techniques.

Enhancing Safety Within this component, clients are encouraged to explore ways they can increase their feeling of safety in the future. Many families find this an especially helpful element of TF-CBT.

Conjoint Child-Parent Sessions In conjoint sessions, parents and their children discuss trauma together in a safe environment, often through discussions on other aspects of relationship like conflict resolution which have been affected by their history of trauma.

Note that TF-CBT should be implemented alongside other forms of trauma therapy and the individual’s overall mental health needs. Children or youth who display severe externalizing problems such as anxiety or conduct disorder may require treatment with other evidence-based therapies before beginning TF-CBT therapy.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR therapy is an innovative form of psychotherapy designed to ease trauma-related symptoms by helping individuals process and let go of negative feelings associated with their experiences, thus relieving anxiety and depression symptoms. While EMDR is most frequently utilized for PTSD therapy, its application has also been demonstrated with substance abuse disorders and eating disorders.

EMDR therapy was first developed in the 1980s as an easy and quick solution to treat trauma. According to numerous studies, this form of therapy works by focusing on one traumatic memory while your therapist taps or moves your eyes side to side, or uses other bilateral stimuli (light or sound). You can talk freely during sessions; and many people see positive results after just three sessions of EMDR.

One reason that EMDR therapy can be so successful is because it doesn’t require you to recount trauma details in detail, like other forms of psychotherapy might. This allows patients to feel more at ease during sessions, making it easier to open up about painful experiences. Therefore, it is crucial that a trained therapist be used with this form of treatment.

Though EMDR therapy is widely recognized for its success, its exact mechanism remains unknown. Experts speculate that tapping or eye movement stimulation could activate memory processing regions of your brain; however, other research indicates it’s still unknown exactly how this therapy affects it to bring down anxiety and depression levels.

Studies examining EMDR as an alternative trauma therapy have examined its effects on various psychological and medical problems, such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). To assess its effectiveness as an alternative trauma therapy option, we conducted a systematic review using three databases; PubMed, ScienceDirect and Web of Knowledge were searched for studies reporting the effectiveness, mechanisms of action effects or correlations of EMDR use as alternative trauma therapy interventions.