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Trauma Therapy in Atlanta, GA

There are many forms of trauma, all of which can adversely impact people’s lives to different degrees. As a result, some people will have behavioral problems and develop mental health disorders. At the same time, others may turn to substance use to avoid unpleasant emotions associated with the traumatic experience.

Our trauma therapy in Atlanta, Georgia helps people process trauma and face their fears, while empowering them with coping skills so they can regain control of their lives. If you or someone you love is looking for PTSD therapy in Atlanta, we are available to help. 

What is Trauma?

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape, or natural disaster. This broad definition is more of a guideline as trauma reactions can be complicated.

Intense emotions are a normal response immediately following a traumatic event. However, trauma may lead some people to experience longer-term reactions. Trauma affects everyone differently.

As such, the way someone processes trauma depends on many factors which may include:

  • Individual temperament and personality 
  • Type of event and the level of effect it has on someone
  • Coping and life skills
  • Available support system
  • Access to community resources
  • Sociocultural factors
  • Past experiences
  • Ability to regulate emotions
  • Existing mental health and substance use disorders

The long-term psychological effects of trauma can lead to mental health and substance use disorders with a wide range of symptoms. These symptoms may last for months to years and make day-to-day functioning difficult.

In addition to psychological symptoms, people may experience chronic physical symptoms. These can include but may not be limited to headaches, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, or muscle tension. Our trauma therapy in Atlanta focuses on how trauma has affected the individual rather than the event.

Types of Trauma

Trauma can come from a single event, multiple events, or an ongoing situation such as physical or emotional abuse. Often people respond to certain triggers that cause them to experience painful emotions all over again. This can leave them with high levels of anxiety, anger, guilt, or sadness. There are three main types of trauma: acute, chronic, and complex.

Acute Trauma

Acute trauma generally occurs from a single terrifying event such as a natural disaster, death, accident, acts of violence, or rape. Additionally, this may include trauma from the betrayal by a trusted person. The distressful event threatens the person’s physical or emotional security. The effects of acute trauma may improve over time following the event. However, professional trauma therapy is recommended to help people process and cope with lingering effects. Acute trauma is linked to an acute stress disorder, PTSD, phobias, and other mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and alcohol or substance abuse. 

Chronic Trauma

Unlike acute trauma which occurs due to a single event, chronic trauma arises from multiple and prolonged distressing events. This is common with children who suffer from abuse, neglect, or extreme poverty. However, can occur with anyone who suffers long distressful situations. Chronic trauma can have numerous adverse and long-term effects on a person’s mental and physical health. Traumatized people sometimes resort to alcohol or other substance abuse to regain emotional control.

Complex Trauma

Complex trauma develops when someone is exposed to varied and repetitive traumatic situations. Often, this is a result of interpersonal relationships such as childhood abuse, neglect, domestic violence, and family conflict. When someone experiences trauma, changes occur in the brain and stress hormones are released. These stress hormones create an intense desire to fight, flight, fawn or freeze. Once the person feels physically and emotionally safe again, these feelings start to calm down. Someone suffering from complex trauma may remain in constant distress and fear.

one-on-one trauma therapy in Atlanta

Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

While the majority of people can heal and recover following trauma, some may continue to display psychological. Additionally, they may show physical symptoms which make it difficult or impossible to return to normal daily life. Fortunately, seeking PTSD therapy in Atlanta helps individuals return to a healthy mental state and go on to lead happy and fulfilling lives. 

PTSD is a psychiatric syndrome that can occur after someone experiences a terrifying or life-threatening event. PTSD reveals itself in a variety of ways. Typically, PTSD symptoms develop within six months of the traumatic event. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), to be diagnosed with PTSD, someone must have all of the following symptoms for at least one month.

These include:

  • At least one-time re-experiencing symptom
  • At least one avoidance symptom
  • At least two arousal or reactivity symptoms
  • At least two cognition and mood symptoms 

Re-experiencing Symptoms

  • Flashbacks: The person feels they are experiencing the traumatic event all over again, regardless of what is happening in the present. Triggers such as thoughts, sounds, smells, or images of graphic violence can cause the memories to re-surface. 
  • Recurring nightmares: These distressing dreams are an established feature of PTSD.  The characteristics are dependent on the trauma experienced by an individual. 
  • Distressing thoughts: These thoughts and feelings about the event can lead to problems with relationships, work, and everyday life.

Avoidance Symptoms

Avoidance is a primary symptom of PTSD. This behavior is a result of fear and anxiety from a traumatic event. Individuals trying to cope with trauma may try to avoid their thoughts and feelings. In addition, they may avoid certain situations, people, places, or other triggers that remind them of the trauma. Avoidance leads to withdrawal and self-isolation.

Arousal and Reactivity Symptoms

Arousal symptoms are usually a constant state of being. This may take the form of being stressed, fearful, angry, on edge, and easily startled. Emotional reactivity and difficulty regulating emotions may be severe. Because of this, the person can have trouble eating, sleeping, or concentrating. They may also engage in risky behaviors such as alcohol or substance abuse.

Cognitive and Mood Symptoms

Someone with PTSD may be irritable, cast blame, and have angry outbursts. In addition, they may have feelings of guilt and shame or have difficulty having positive feelings. Psychological trauma can affect cognitive functions long-term.

Some of these include:

  • Memory
  • Concentration
  • Problem-solving
  • Learning
  • Plan and organize
  • Self-control
  • Multitask

veteran with PTSD sitting on a couch feeling upset

To summarize, people living with PTSD are haunted and consumed by their past trauma. They struggle to move on with present day-to-day living. Triggers send them back over and over to re-live the traumatic experiences.

PTSD symptoms can vary in intensity and regularity. Our Trauma Therapy in Atlanta, Georgia can help people struggling with PTSD take back control of their lives. 

Trauma and Substance Use

Early exposure to trauma significantly increases the risk of developing psychiatric disorders in adulthood. Additionally, childhood trauma is closely linked to substance use disorders (SUD). 

Traumatized people who have experienced child abuse, disasters, acts of violence, war, or other traumatic experiences often try to cope by using alcohol or other substances. Further, USA studies from PubMed have reported high rates of co-morbid PTSD and substance misuse. 

Our focus on dual diagnosis during trauma therapy in Atlanta allows us to provide our clients with the support needed to recover from trauma. It also provides the opportunity for our clients to heal from substance use disorder.

“ Everyone at ER helped me so much! I’m coming up to six months clean now which I never thought I’d manage. I can’t say thank you enough times! ” – Jerry, Former Client

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How We Treat Trauma at Empowered Recovery Center

Just as trauma can lead to substance misuse, individuals who misuse drugs and alcohol are predisposed to experiencing traumatic events. Trauma and substance use disorders each have their own symptoms and neurobiological changes, but also overlap and interact with each other.

Since there is a strong connection between trauma and substance use disorders, trauma therapy begins by identifying past traumas. Our licensed therapists use a variety of techniques to aid in reducing symptoms and improving functioning.

Trauma therapy may include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): A positive and effective psychotherapy treatment that challenges the unhealthy thought processes and emotions connected to trauma. CBT can help by increasing emotional insight through exploring responses to reminders of the trauma.

  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): Evidence-based treatment using opposites. Therapy can be adapted and can implement skills training, mindfulness, and distress tolerance to help people manage and cope with emotional distress. DBT can also help identify and replace maladaptive behaviors.

  • Holistic therapy: Promotes healing through practical, hands-on activities and helps to reinforce new skills, express painful or suppressed emotions, and find inspiration. Holistic therapy offers many benefits when confronting trauma and complements other trauma therapies.

  • Complementary therapies: Approach to trauma treatment and prevention that is outside clinical approaches. These may include yoga, therapeutic massage, and mindfulness meditation. These forms of treatment are creative ways of healing trauma.

peer support group for trauma therapy in Atlanta

Begin Trauma Therapy in Atlanta Today

Even if you aren’t sure whether trauma is part of your story, finding a treatment provider that offers trauma therapy is a smart choice when dealing with substance use disorders.

Contact us today to find out more about our trauma therapy in Atlanta, Georgia.

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