© 2016 by Paul DelGrosso, LICSW

TRAUMA THERAPY

Over the course of a lifetime, many people experience various forms of emotional and psychological trauma. Such trauma can result from single events (such as witnessing or being the victim of a violent crime), a series of events (such as recurring abuse via a parent or partner), or a combination of events over time.

 

Changes in behavior and mood can result from these events - leading to feeling on edge or depressed, avoiding people or activities, re-experiencing some aspect of the trauma, and feeling disconnected from oneself or the world around you. Such changes can lead to decreased ability to fulfill life obligations and goals – such as work/school, healthy relationships, or reaching expected milestones across the lifespan.

 

Due to the often complex nature of trauma, the changes and symptoms can emerge shortly after the event or much later (sometimes years later). If left untreated, symptoms can wax and wane over time. This creates additional problems in the lives of victims and their loved ones. Should someone with trauma symptoms choose not to seek help, these individuals are at risk for increased vulnerability to the effects of future life stressors – which will likely worsen symptoms.

 

When these symptoms are particularly severe, a person may meet the criteria for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); however, trauma takes many forms and can be just as distressing and problematic even if the full criteria for PTSD are not met.

Thankfully, several psychotherapeutic interventions have proven to be very effective in resolving PTSD and other forms of trauma. Three of these treatments are considered the “gold standard” therapies due to abundant peer-reviewed research and practical application. Not only do these treatments show effectiveness in resolving current symptoms, they also demonstrate the ability to maintain improvements over time.

I provide each of these three "gold standard" treatments:

 

Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE)

 

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)

 

Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

 

In order to determine which of these treatments is best for you, the first step is completing a comprehensive intake assessment that will explore your personal story in depth. In most cases, intensive trauma treatment does not begin until additional sessions are spent building trust, enhancing relaxation skills, and learning more about the specifics each of these three treatments. These steps help you become comfortable with the work ahead, assist you in making an informed choice, and increase the effectiveness of treatment.

 

Since trauma and PTSD impact relationships, family members and loved ones also struggle with the effects of trauma. Treatment is often even more effective when (at the appropriate time) one or more trusted loved ones are included in the treatment process. This may take the form of someone being aware of the treatment goals and being a constructive partner in treatment. In other cases, adding family and/or couples therapy is an appropriate option.

I received my training in PE, CPT and EMDR over five years while working at the Department of Defense providing psychotherapy to active-duty service-members presenting with complex trauma arising from combat exposure, various childhood trauma, and/or adult sexual trauma. For PE and CPT, I completed training with the Center for Deployment Psychology. For EMDR, I completed training with EMDR of Greater Washington.

I also encourage you to read about Schema Therapy (another type of therapy I provide) and its effectiveness for treating those with difficult childhood experiences that result in important childhood emotional needs not being met and lead to problematic functioning in adulthood.