Mental Health

What are the 3 Main Recommended Treatments for Trauma?

What are the 3 Main Recommended Treatments for Trauma

In Canada, almost 8% of adults live with moderate or severe symptoms of trauma. Trauma can often lead to conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and thus, effective treatment is crucial for helping individuals recover and regain a sense of normalcy.


Among the most recommended treatments for trauma are Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE), Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).


These evidence-based therapies have demonstrated significant effectiveness in improving PTSD symptoms and this article explains why these treatments are highly recommended and how they help with trauma recovery.


3 Main Recommended Treatments for Trauma

Trauma usually occurs after a scary, violent, or near-death experience and can happen to just about anyone regardless of age.


While several psychotherapy treatments and medications can help treat moderate and severe symptoms of PTSD, here are three of the most recommended and effective treatments for trauma.


1: Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE)

Developed by Dr. Edna Foa, PE is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy specifically designed to treat PTSD. It helps individuals gradually confront trauma-related memories, feelings, emotions, and situations.


This form of therapy teaches PTSD patients how to overcome trauma by recounting the traumatic experience with a therapist in a safe environment.


A therapist then dissects the traumatic experience over multiple sessions to help patients get past their fears and heal.


This form of therapy can be especially effective for PTSD patients who experience constant flashbacks or nightmares.


2: Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is also a type of cognitive-behavioral treatment that focuses on the way trauma impacts thought processes.


Developed by Dr. Patricia Resick, CPT helps individuals identify and modify unhelpful beliefs related to trauma.


The first stage of this therapy requires patients to write down in detail the trauma that they have experienced and how it has affected them.


It helps patients recognize the thoughts and beliefs preventing them from moving past the experience and identify new ways to live now that it can’t be undone.


3: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a unique therapy developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro that combines exposure therapy with guided eye movements to help patients overcome severe symptoms of PTSD.


This therapy doesn’t involve a patient talking or writing about their traumatic experience. Instead, a therapist will simply ask a patient to think about their traumatic experience as they watch or listen to something while simultaneously making guided side-to-side eye movements.


The purpose of this therapy is to help patients change the way they react to a traumatic experience. It is designed to heighten a patient’s control over emotions when recalling traumatic memories.


The Effectiveness of PE, CPT, and EMDR

Are PE, CPT, and EMDR effective treatments for PTSD and trauma? Let’s find out!


The Effectiveness of Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE)

PE’s effectiveness lies in its structured approach that addresses both the emotional and cognitive aspects of trauma.


The gradual exposure over multiple sessions allows for manageable doses of distress, which isn’t overwhelming for the patient and helps facilitate meaningful progress.


Numerous studies have shown PE to be highly effective in reducing PTSD symptoms, with many individuals experiencing significant improvements in a relatively short period.


How Does PE Help Treat Trauma?

Repeated exposure to trauma-related stimuli in a safe and controlled environment helps reduce the emotional distress associated with those memories. Over time, this process, known as habituation, diminishes the power of traumatic memories to provoke intense fear and anxiety.


By repeatedly confronting and reprocessing trauma-related thoughts, individuals can change their understanding and perceptions of the trauma. This helps in reducing the cognitive distortions that often accompany PTSD, such as feelings of guilt or blame.


PE also empowers individuals by helping them regain control over their lives by facing and mastering their fears to build confidence and resilience, which are crucial for long-term recovery.


The Effectiveness of Cognitive Processing Therapy

CPT is effective because it targets the maladaptive thought patterns that perpetuate PTSD symptoms.


By focusing on cognitive restructuring, CPT helps individuals break free from negative thought cycles that contribute to their distress.


How Does CPT Help Treat Trauma?

CPT involves identifying and challenging distorted beliefs and thoughts related to the trauma to help individuals develop a more balanced and accurate understanding of their traumatic experiences.

By writing detailed accounts of their trauma patients can process the events more thoroughly which facilitates cognitive restructuring as it allows them to confront their thoughts and emotions in a safe and structured manner.
CPT also equips individuals with skills to challenge and modify their thoughts independently, promoting long-term resilience and reducing the likelihood of relapse.


The Effectiveness of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR’s effectiveness is attributed to its unique approach of combining memory recall with bilateral stimulation.


This method mimics the brain’s natural processing mechanisms (similar to what you would encounter during REM sleep) with numerous studies showcasing EMDR’s efficacy in reducing PTSD symptoms and resulting in lasting improvements.


How Does EMDR Help Treat Trauma?

The dual-attention stimulus used in EMDR facilitates the brain’s processing of traumatic memories, reducing their emotional intensity and vividness.


This helps individuals reprocess traumatic memories and integrate them into a more adaptive and functional cognitive framework leading to a reduction in PTSD symptoms and overall psychological well-being.


EMDR is also known for producing relatively rapid results.


Why are PE, CPT, and EMDR the 3 main Recommended Treatments for Trauma?

Evidence-based treatments like PE, CPT, and EMDR have been rigorously tested through scientific research and clinical trials. Their effectiveness in reducing PTSD symptoms is well-documented, providing confidence in their use.

These therapies also follow standardized protocols, ensuring consistency in treatment delivery and allowing for replication in various clinical settings. They are safe and effective, which minimizes the risk of harm and maximizes the potential for recovery.


Mental Health Therapy Services in Nova Scotia, Canada

PE, CPT, and EMDR offer structured, evidence-based approaches to help individuals confront and process their traumatic experiences, leading to significant reductions in distress and improvements in quality of life.


These therapy sessions can be conducted at an individual or group level and offer plenty of benefits.


At Spectrum Therapeutic Solutions, we offer therapeutic counseling services designed to combat trauma for improved mental and physical well-being.


To learn more or to book an appointment contact us at (902) 932 2395.



Q) Can trauma be treated without medication?

Therapy is an effective treatment method for trauma, but medications also play an important role. While trauma can be treated without medication the decision to do so should always lie in the hands of professionals.

Q) How do I know which trauma treatment is best for me?

To determine which method is best for trauma treatment, always consult with healthcare experts.

About Us

Spectrum Therapeutic Solutions was Founded in 1989 as an occupational health service it grew to include therapeutic counselling in 2005.


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