In an increasingly digital world, more people are turning to online platforms for various needs, and mental health care is no exception. Trauma, an emotional response to distressing events, can deeply impact an individual’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Traditional in-person therapy has long been the standard for trauma treatment, but online trauma therapy is emerging as a viable and, for many, preferable option. This blog post delves into the world of online trauma therapy, its benefits, and how it can potentially be the path to healing for many who have experienced trauma.
Can You Do Trauma Therapy Virtually?
Certainly! Trauma therapy can indeed be conducted virtually, offering an alternative to traditional in-person sessions. Online trauma therapy provides accessibility and flexibility, allowing individuals from anywhere to connect with skilled professionals. Being in a familiar environment can make some individuals feel more at ease, especially if they experience heightened anxiety in new or unfamiliar settings.
However, there are challenges to consider with virtual trauma therapy. Establishing a strong therapeutic bond, which is vital in trauma treatment, might be more challenging through a screen for some clients and therapists. It’s also crucial to ensure a private and uninterrupted space for therapy and to use secure platforms compliant with privacy regulations. With the right preparations and understanding, virtual trauma therapy can be an effective and valuable tool for many seeking help.
Which Therapy Is Best For Trauma?
Trauma affects individuals differently, and what works best for one person might not necessarily be the most effective for another. That said, several therapeutic approaches have been found effective in treating trauma. The “best” therapy often depends on the nature and severity of the trauma, the specific symptoms, and the individual’s personal preferences.
Here are some of the most commonly recommended therapies for trauma:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
This therapy helps individuals recognize and change negative thought patterns and behaviors that result from traumatic experiences. It’s effective for many trauma survivors, especially those with PTSD.
- Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE)
A form of CBT, PE involves gradually exposing individuals to thoughts, feelings, and situations that they’ve been avoiding due to the trauma. Over time, this helps reduce the power these triggers hold.
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
This innovative therapy involves recalling traumatic memories while undergoing bilateral stimulation, typically in the form of guided eye movements. It aims to help the brain reprocess traumatic memories more healthily.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
Originally developed to treat borderline personality disorder, DBT can be effective for those with trauma. Especially if they have difficulties regulating emotions or engage in self-harming behaviors.
- Somatic Therapies
These focus on bodily sensations and physical symptoms of trauma. One example is the Somatic Experiencing (SE) technique, which targets the autonomic nervous system’s response to trauma.
- Narrative Therapy
This approach helps individuals craft a narrative or story about their trauma, giving them a new perspective and helping them reclaim their voice and agency.
- Attachment-based Therapy
Especially effective for individuals whose trauma stems from childhood or relational traumas, this therapy focuses on developing secure, healthy attachment styles.
It’s important to note that trauma recovery is often a complex process and a combination of therapies may be recommended. Finding a qualified and compassionate therapist who understands trauma is essential.
How Is Online Trauma Therapy Conducted?
Online trauma therapy is conducted using digital platforms and tools to facilitate therapeutic sessions between the therapist and the client, without the need for face-to-face, in-person meetings. Here’s a general overview of how it’s conducted:
Therapists use secure, HIPAA-compliant (or equivalent depending on the country) platforms for video conferencing. These platforms ensure privacy and confidentiality, much like an in-person session would. Common platforms include Zoom (with its healthcare version), Doxy.me, and VSee.
The therapy often starts with an initial assessment, where the therapist gathers information about the client’s history, the nature of the trauma, current symptoms, and therapeutic goals. This session also allows both parties to address any technical issues or concerns about the online format.
Much like traditional therapy, online trauma therapy sessions are typically scheduled once a week or bi-weekly, lasting for about 50 minutes to an hour. The frequency and duration can vary based on individual needs.
Homework and Resources
Online therapy often incorporates digital resources. Therapists might send worksheets, reading materials, or links to helpful videos for the client to review between sessions. Secure messaging platforms or dedicated therapy apps can facilitate this exchange.
Because trauma discussions can be triggering, online therapists establish safety protocols at the outset. This could include having a local emergency contact, ensuring the client has access to local crisis resources, and setting up a plan in case the client becomes highly distressed during a session.
Feedback and Adjustments
The virtual nature of the therapy means that both the therapist and client need to be proactive in seeking and providing feedback. This can help in adjusting the therapeutic techniques or addressing any technical glitches that might arise.
Wrap-up and Continuation
As therapy progresses, there will be sessions dedicated to assessing progress, addressing any remaining issues, and discussing the potential next steps, whether it’s continuation, transition to in-person therapy, or conclusion of the therapy.
While online trauma therapy might seem different from traditional in-person therapy, its core remains the same: providing a safe, supportive space for individuals. The primary difference is in the medium and some of the tools used. But with adaptation and understanding, it can be just as effective.
How Do I Start Online Trauma Therapy?
Starting online trauma therapy involves several steps to ensure you’re receiving the appropriate care in a safe and effective manner. Here’s a guide to help you begin your online therapeutic journey:
Research and Identify Potential Therapists
- Look for licensed therapists or counselors who specialize in trauma therapy.
- Consider platforms like TherapyMantra, and MantraCare, or specialized directories such as Psychology Today’s therapist finder.
- Read reviews, testimonials, and professional profiles to learn more about potential therapists.
- Ensure that the therapist is licensed in their field (e.g., LCSW, LMFT, LPC, PsyD, PhD).
- Check if they are licensed in your state or country, as therapy regulations can vary by jurisdiction.
- Reach out to potential therapists with questions about their experience, approach to trauma therapy, and any other concerns you might have.
- Discuss fees, insurance, session frequency, and duration.
- Ensure you have a reliable internet connection and a device with a camera and microphone.
- Familiarize yourself with the platform the therapist uses. Ensure it’s secure and compliant with privacy laws.
Create a Safe Space
- Designate a quiet, private location for your sessions where you won’t be disturbed.
- It should be a space where you feel comfortable discussing sensitive topics.
- Establish a safety plan with your therapist, considering the sensitive nature of trauma discussions.
- Make sure you have access to local crisis resources, and provide an emergency contact if needed.
- Just like in-person therapy, consistency is key in online trauma therapy.
- Attend sessions regularly and be on time.
- If you have concerns about the therapy, the technology, or the therapeutic relationship, communicate them with your therapist.
- A strong therapist-client relationship is built on trust and open communication.
Review and Adjust
- Periodically review your progress with your therapist.
- If needed, adjust goals and therapeutic techniques.
Starting online trauma therapy is a significant step towards healing and self-care. Remember, it’s okay to seek help. And finding the right fit in a therapist can make all the difference in your recovery journey. If at any point you feel that online therapy isn’t working for you, discuss it with your therapist; there might be alternatives or adjustments that can be made.
How Successful Is Trauma Therapy?
Trauma therapy, when provided by trained professionals using evidence-based approaches, has been shown to be effective in reducing the symptoms and distress caused by traumatic experiences. According to a meta-analysis published in the journal, trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) demonstrated a significant reduction in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptom severity compared to non-trauma-focused interventions.
The study incorporated data from 12 trials and over 900 participants and found that 49% of those who received trauma-focused CBT showed significant improvements compared to 28% in other therapies.
Another form of treatment, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), has also received empirical support for its effectiveness in treating trauma. Another study concluded that EMDR was particularly effective for PTSD. With its success rates at par or even surpassing other trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapies.
Despite these promising figures, it’s crucial to note that individual responses to trauma therapy can vary. And the success of treatment can be influenced by factors. Such as the therapist’s expertise, the client’s commitment, and the nature and severity of the trauma.
In the digital age, online trauma therapy emerges as a beacon of hope for those seeking healing from the scars of distressing events. With numerous evidence-backed approaches like trauma-focused CBT and EMDR, individuals now have access to effective therapeutic interventions from the comfort of their homes. While the virtual realm brings its set of challenges, the combination of accessibility, privacy, and expert care makes online trauma therapy a promising avenue for recovery.
As we navigate this ever-evolving landscape of digital health care, it’s vital to remain informed and prioritize safety. Overall, remember that seeking help is both a sign of strength and a step towards reclaiming one’s well-being. If you are experiencing stress-related issues, Online Stress Counseling at TherapyMantra can help: Book a trial Online therapy session