Trauma Treatment and Inpatient Mental Health

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What is emotional and psychological trauma?

A global study on the epidemiology of exposure to traumatic events shows that over 70 percent of respondents experienced some traumatic event. Among these respondents, over 30 percent had experienced four or more traumatic events. Some of the most common experiences included a life-threatening injury, unexpected loss of a loved one, and being involved in an accident. But how do these experiences affect our lives and the way we think? Let’s have a look at trauma as a concept, how it impacts us, and the treatment options available.


According to Bessel van der Kolk, author of the best-selling book, The Body Keeps The Score; trauma is an event that overwhelms your central nervous system, affecting the way you process and recall memories. Meanwhile, Peter Levine, who founded the Somatic Experiencing approach, describes it as the result of feeling fear and helplessness.


But despite the different definitions, experts agree that it can have a major effect, both biologically and psychologically. Some examples of traumatic events include natural disasters, like floods, fires, or hurricanes, physical or sexual assault, witnessing the death of another person, or the sudden death of a caregiver, such as a parent or guardian.

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What Are the Treatments for Trauma?

Mental health professionals employ different approaches to treat trauma, such as cognitive processing therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy. However, the type of mental health services you receive is dependent on the severity of the mental health conditions you need help with. At URP Behavioral Health, we offer two forms of trauma treatment: inpatient and outpatient.


With inpatient treatment, you spend a few weeks at the treatment facility, undergoing various therapies to help you cope with symptoms. A team of therapists, psychiatrists, and physicians prepares an individualized plan designed to meet your needs. Typically, a residential treatment program includes:

  • Trauma-focused individual and group counseling  
  • Developing coping strategies to live an independent life
  • Evidence-based, trauma-focused therapy and non-verbal therapies 
  • Nutrition education and medication counseling  
  • Life skill training such as communication, vocational, and anger management 
  • Educational support to help residents become financially independent 

There’s also outpatient treatment, which requires you to visit the facility a few times a week for therapy sessions. Depending on your symptoms, your therapist can recommend whether to opt for inpatient or outpatient treatment.

Types of Trauma Therapy

There's no one-size-fits-all approach to treating trauma. A mental health professional will employ a combination of treatments, all of which have different values when preparing a treatment plan. This can include a mix of evidence-based and holistic therapies, some of which include:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

With CBT, you’ll assess thinking patterns to identify and eventually change unhelpful and distorted thoughts. For instance, overgeneralizing that everyone is a bad person, so you can’t trust anyone.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

In DBT, your therapist helps you develop distress tolerance and mindfulness skills to cope with stressful events. Specifically, this technique targets emotional dysregulation so you can control your emotions.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

During EMDR therapy, you access traumatic memories via guided instructions and rhythmic tapping. This bilateral stimulation allows you to safely reprocess the memory in a way that no longer disrupts your life.

Art and Music Therapy

When you go through various traumatic events, it can affect your verbal memory of the experience. These non-verbal techniques have a calming element that makes it easier for you to recall the event.

Inner Child Work

This approach involves recognizing that your perceptions and behaviors as an adult are the results of childhood experiences. It focuses on re-parenting our inner child and meeting his or her needs.

Group Therapy

In group therapy, you sit down with other trauma survivors and trauma specialists to talk about your experience. When you’re surrounded by other survivors, it helps normalize symptoms and gives you a sense of support.

Psychodynamic Therapy

This form of therapy focuses on confronting the upsetting feelings and thoughts in our unconscious mind. Your therapist will work with you to identify unconscious coping mechanisms and gain awareness of the painful feelings that resulted from a traumatic event.

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How Therapy Can Help with Trauma

During inpatient treatment centers, therapists take a trauma-informed approach to recommend suitable techniques that mitigate the trauma response. Doing so offers positive outcomes for the person undergoing treatment, such as:

Develops Coping Skills

When you struggle with trauma, you may feel incapable of coping with stressful events. Trauma-informed therapy is designed to equip you with coping skills and techniques. By implementing these skills, you’ll feel more confident when faced with a stressful situation.

Increases Trust

Traumatizing experiences have a negative effect on your sense of security and well-being. As a result, you have a hard time trusting others. As you undergo trauma treatment, your perception of trusting people will change. Rather than thinking that you shouldn’t trust anyone, you’ll believe that it’s alright to give people a chance.

Reduces Fear

After going through a traumatic experience, you may become fearful and avoid things that remind you of the event. This can include people, places, and objects – making it impossible to function. A trauma therapist can help you confront the memory and gradually overcome your fears.

Impact of Childhood Trauma Beyond Childhood

Your experiences during childhood can have a lasting impact on how you feel, behave, and interact with your surroundings as an adult. Therefore, any traumatic experience is an invisible force that affects how you live and make sense of the world, as explained by Dr. Gabor Mate, author of The Wisdom of Trauma.

Effects on the Brain

Studies have found that people who go through adverse childhood experiences have a lower volume of white matter in different areas of the brain. The amount of white matter can impact your capacity to learn and store information. Unlike grey matter, your white matter continues developing well into adolescence and early adulthood.


One research showed that people who experienced abuse as children had reduced myelination on a majority of nerve fibers. This can contribute to various neurological problems. Researchers also concluded that childhood abuse could significantly disrupt connectivity between essential areas of the brain that regulate emotional and cognitive processes.

Poor Attachment and Relationships

As a child, your relationship with your caregiver forms the basis of all adult relationships. With a healthy attachment to a parent, you learn to regulate your emotions and trust other people.


However, an unstable relationship with a primary caregiver can develop a belief that you can’t rely on others. Studies show that children who lack healthy attachments are more susceptible to stress. Due to this, they may react inappropriately or have trouble controlling their emotions.

Difficulty in Emotional Regulation

Experiencing adverse childhood experiences such as abuse, maltreatment, or neglect can lead to difficulties in understanding and expressing emotions. You may develop internalizing or externalizing reactions towards stress, leading to high levels of anger, depression, or anxiety. Some children may also adopt explosive or unpredictable emotional responses.

Behavioral Issues

A history of complex trauma can lead to poor impulse control and self-regulation. It’s why traumatized children behave violently or unpredictably. When they grow up, these children are likelier to engage in high-risk behaviors and illegal activities.

PTSD, Chronic, Acute, Childhood Trauma: What’s The Difference?


When discussing trauma with your therapist, it’s likely that you’ll hear various terms. For a better understanding of terms like chronic, acute, and childhood trauma, let’s look at the differences between them.


Types of Trauma


  • You develop acute trauma after a single dangerous or highly stressful event, such as an accident.


  • When you experience prolonged exposure to dangerous or stressful events, it’s called chronic trauma. Examples include sexual abuse, childhood neglect, or bullying.


  • Complex trauma develops as a result of repeated exposure to stressful events during childhood.


Acute and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder


When you experience symptoms as a result of the highly stressful event can determine whether you have acute or post-traumatic stress disorder.


In the case of acute stress disorder, symptoms arise soon after the traumatic event and continue for at least 3 days but are resolved within a month. However, if symptoms persist beyond one month, the condition is diagnosed as PTSD.


Here are some commonly asked questions about trauma.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy, commonly known as EMDR therapy, is a technique that helps trauma survivors process the event on an emotional level. Other options include psychodynamic therapy, which helps you understand the effect of past experiences on current behaviors and feelings.

Research indicates that the stress response can implicate brain areas such as the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, and amygdala. These areas can undergo lasting changes as a result of traumatic stress. Studies show that the brain may rewire itself following a traumatic experience as a way to cope.

After a traumatic event, you may experience symptoms such as sudden intrusive thoughts about the occurrence and inability to concentrate. Some people report seeing visual images from the event and nightmares, which can affect their mood and cause confusion.

In some cases, it’s possible that the stress you’re experiencing isn’t the result of current-day events. Rather, the feelings of fear and anxiety result from unresolved trauma. It manifests in the form of behavioral, emotional, and physical behavioral symptoms.

Some techniques used to regulate the nervous system include exercise, meditation, and mindful breathing. These can calm an overactive nervous system during stressful events. More detailed approaches include increasing awareness about different triggers, focusing on the body’s response, and finding safe relationships.

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