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15 Types of Trauma Therapy

Woman working with Horse in Equine therapy - Types of Trauma Therapy

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It is not uncommon to experience trauma, especially for individuals that also suffer from addiction or substance use disorders. According to research, 60% of men and 50% of women experience at least one trauma in their lives. There are Big T types of trauma, which are acute psychological traumas such as death of a loved one, sexual trauma, or other life-threatening experiences, and there a little t types of trauma, which are highly distressing events that typically don’t involve violence or life-threatening disasters but that do create significant distress.

Understanding that virtually every patient that receives addiction treatment is also dealing with some level of trauma is key in clinically addressing the patient’s need but also helping them overcome their trauma and, in doing so, their addiction. Addiction by its very nature is a traumatic event, so all addiction treatment programs need to know different approaches and practices to help patients identify, address, and overcome their trauma.

Additionally, it is important to recognize that there is no cookie cutter, standardized way to view trauma as an issue, as well as in the way to approach, treat, and recover from trauma. Trauma is unique to the individual, and individual’s process experiences and emotions in different ways. What might be traumatic to one patient in rehab may not be traumatic to another. How traumatic events or situations impact an individual is different from person-to-person, and the approaches in the identification of trauma, treatment of that trauma, and recovery from that trauma will also be different from patient-to-patient. Therefore, a good addiction treatment facility and clinical staff must be well-versed in different trauma treatment and therapeutic approaches, so that they are truly able to deliver individualized clinical care and meet each patient’s individual needs.

Here are 15 different types of trauma therapy and trauma treatment approaches:

  • Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)

EMDR involves guided eye movements or other forms of bilateral stimulation while recalling traumatic memories. EMDR aims to reprocess those traumatic memories, reducing their emotion intensity and helping the individual process them more adaptively.

  • Internal Family Systems (IFS)

IFS is an approach to psychotherapy developed by psychologist Richard Schwartz, Ph.D., that allows for self-discovery and healing. According to the IFS Institute, “IFS is a transformative tool that conceives every human being as a system of protective and wounded inner parts lead by a core Self.” IFS helps individuals heal from trauma by accessing and healing those protective and wounded inner parts of themselves. IFS helps a person connect with their true inner Self and aids them in releasing the pain and other issues like anxiety and depression related to trauma and PTSD.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a type of therapy that focuses on identifying and challenging negative thought patterns and behaviors, often that can be related to trauma or past traumatic events. CBT aims to help individuals let go of maladaptive behaviors, develop healthier coping mechanisms, and change their emotional responses to traumatic memories.

  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT is a therapeutic approach that combines cognitive-behavioral techniques with mindfulness and acceptance strategies to help individuals regulate their emotions and develop healthy and effective coping skills. DBT helps individuals create effective skills such as mindfulness, self-soothing, problem-solving, boundary setting, and effective communication in an effort to help better manage distress and regulate their emotions. DBT can be beneficial for achieving safety and stabilization when addressing trauma-related symptoms while in treatment.

  • Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)

TF-CBT is a therapeutic approach that combines CBT techniques with a focus specifically on trauma, traumatic memories, and trauma symptoms. TF-CBT is often used when treating children and adolescents who have experienced trauma. TF-CBT can be delivered in both an individual therapy and a group therapy setting, and primarily focuses on providing clients psychoeducation about their trauma. TF-CBT also aids individuals in stabilizing their symptoms through relaxation approaches and other coping skills.

  • Somatic Experiencing

Somatic experiencing is a type of therapy focused on the physiological sensations associated with trauma. This type of therapeutic approach aims to release the physical tension and stress that can become trapped in the individual’s body as a result of traumatic experiences. Somatic experience focuses on the mind-body connection and how an individual’s physical sensations can indicate where trauma and traumatic memories are being stored within their body. Somatic experiencing utilizes movement, exercises of the mind-body such as breathwork, meditation, and guided imagery, and purposeful attention.

  • Brainspotting

According to, “brainspotting is a powerful, focused treatment method that works by identifying, processing and releasing core neurophysiological sources of emotional/body pain, trauma, dissociation and a variety of other challenging symptoms, Brainspotting is a simultaneous form of diagnosis and treatment, enhanced with Biolateral sound, which is deep, direct, and powerful yet focused and containing.” Simply put, brainspotting is a type of therapy that uses spots in an individual’s visual field to help them process trauma and traumatic memories.

  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

MBSR incorporates mindfulness meditation and techniques to help individuals become more present in their body and in the moment, and aware of their thoughts and emotions related to trauma. Originally designed for stress management, MBSR is a mediation therapy utilized in the treatment of trauma, but that is also highly effective in treating depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and a host of other medical conditions.

  • Narrative Therapy

Narrative therapy is a therapeutic approach that involves helping clients reframe and reconstruct their traumatic experiences by creating a new narrative. This new narrative empowers the individual and allows them to separate their identity from the trauma. Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET) is often utilized for survivors of complex trauma, and aids individuals in creating ways to reclaim their personal identity and their story.

  • Comprehensive Resource Model (CRM)

CRM is a neuro-biologically based, affect-focused trauma treatment model. CRM targets the midbrain and aids individuals in reprocessing their traumatic memories. CRM helps individuals become resourced, meaning that their nervous system will feel safe and will not be engaged in an active fight, flight, or freeze defense response.

  • Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)

CPT is a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) developed specifically to help treat trauma. CPT is a structured approach, typically occurring over 12 therapy sessions, that includes psychoeducation and the development of healthy coping skills to overcome maladaptive thoughts that occur and have developed as the result of trauma. CPT can help an individual create new ways to process their thoughts and reprocess their traumatic memories.

  • Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE)

Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE) is a therapeutic approach that involves gradually exposing clients to their traumatic memories in a safe and controlled environment. This eventually helps the individual to become less sensitive to the emotional impact their traumatic memories have on them, their thoughts, and their behaviors. This type of exposure therapy is often used to address post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the avoidant behaviors often associated with PTSD. Prolonged Exposure Therapy will help individuals learn relaxation techniques and other grounding techniques while being exposed to stressful or distressing reminders of past trauma. PE helps individuals learn and process that their trauma and traumatic memories do not place them in current or present danger and aids them in working through symptoms of their trauma which, through exposure, decrease or dissipate over time.

  • Brief Eclectic Therapy (BET)

Brief Eclectic Therapy (BET) combines aspects of DBT and psychodynamic therapy. BET creates a learning environment where an individual will learn about their trauma and begin to employ relaxation techniques and mindfulness exercises while speaking about past traumatic experiences.

  • Inner Child Work

Inner child work is a therapeutic approach that aids an individual in recognizing and healing childhood trauma. This therapy approach recognizes that the behaviors of an adult that experienced childhood trauma stem from that individual’s childhood experiences. Inner child work focuses on addressing the needs of the individual that went unmet during their childhood when they experienced their trauma and aids them in reparenting themselves.

  • Equine-Assisted Therapy

Equine-assisted therapy involves the interaction between an individual receiving treatment for trauma and horses. Equine therapy involves utilizing techniques that foster safety, consent, and compassion, helping individuals recognize and feel more in control of their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Equine therapy promotes emotional healing and personal growth through an experiential approach that involves emotions, senses, and physicality. Studies have shown the connection between people and horses can enhance emotional healing.

If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorder issues, please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive dual-diagnosis addiction treatment in the Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or your loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (866) 929-4318 or email our team at For more information on all of our drug addiction, alcohol addiction, and co-occurring disorder services and recovery resources, please visit our website at

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