Waukesha County

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Overview of Trauma Therapy

Adolescent and Family Trauma Team: The trauma therapists are trained in leading edge, evidence-based, trauma therapy methods that assist the client in achieving the goal of diminishing the emotional impact of the trauma on their lives and eliminating or decreasing the symptoms that are impacting their lives in a negative manner. If appropriate, a trauma therapist will schedule an introductory session to give examples of the trauma processing methods that are used during trauma therapy.

Goal of Trauma Therapy: The purpose of trauma therapy is to diminish the emotional impact that traumatic events have had on one's life. The events are not "erased," but the emotional response to their memory is neutralized

What is Trauma? Trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event such as: physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual abuse; accidents; war; physical illness; abandonment; neglect; poor parenting; loss of loved ones; bullying; etc. An individual can also experience secondary trauma, which happens when the individual witnesses or hears about any of the above examples.

What can happen when a person experiences, witnesses, or hears something about a traumatic event? The traumatic event with all the details experienced by the five senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing, get "stuck" and have the potential to make the individual symptomatic as time goes by. Sometimes the experience is so impactful that it changes their life completely and affects their daily functioning. Sometimes an individual will go on with their life until they encounter a trauma trigger and then they become symptomatic.

What is a trauma trigger? People who have experienced trauma often run into trauma "triggers" in their daily lives. A trauma trigger can be anything that brings back the memory or feelings related to the traumatic events. It can be a sound, a smell, a place, a person, an event, anything that connects back to the original event. These triggers can be very upsetting to the individual, and they start to exhibit symptoms of trauma.

What does symptomatic mean? A person who is symptomatic of trauma may have a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Symptoms vary by individual but can include: sleep disturbance, dreams, flashbacks, anxiety, self harm, suicide ideation or attempt, substance abuse, truancy, running from home, heightened startle response, or fear of certain places or situations.