Trauma therapy for adults and teens is used when individuals are experiencing significant symptoms following a traumatic event. When considering the best treatment for PTSD, it is important to think about Cognitive Processing Therapy, or CPT. 

People will often wonder, what is trauma therapy and why would it be beneficial for me? In order to answer this question, we want to understand how trauma can impact a person. Trauma has been shown to alter how an individual views themselves, others and the world around them. Following a trauma, individuals might believe they are to blame for the event that happened to them. They might also believe that the world is now a dangerous place following a trauma. People that they might have trusted in the past suddenly feel unsafe to be around. If an individual has had multiple traumas happen to them, they might feel as if they are now a “trauma magnet” and more bad things are slated to happen. We refer to these types of thoughts as stuck points in cognitive processing therapy. 

When experiencing these types of stuck points, one is prevented from fully processing the trauma and living a meaningful life. Cognitive processing therapy helps individuals to gradually learn to challenge their stuck points associated with their trauma. In doing so, one learns to view these stuck points differently. As in other types of CBT, trauma therapy for PTSD helps individuals to learn to gather evidence for and against these stuck points. In doing so, you are able to loosen the rigidity of these stuck points. As one’s thoughts about the trauma become less sticky, they are able to accept different perspectives, which enhances the emotional processing of the trauma. Many consider this approach to be the best treatment for PTSD. Research exists to support cognitive processing therapy to be highly effective for adults and adolescents. 

Cognitive processing therapy is a 12 module treatment intervention. Which means you can solely focus on the trauma in this shorter course of treatment. It can also be part of a longer course of treatment in which you work on other thingsl. Research evidence has supported this approach to be the best treatment for PTSD. It is important to work with a clinician who has proper training in delivering these treatment strategies.

Are you looking for trauma therapy near me? Read on to learn more about how common trauma can be in teens and where you can find help!

How Common is Trauma in Teens?

The National Centre for PTSD in the United States has gathered some important statistics regarding the prevalence of trauma. From this research, it has been reported that 15% to 43% of girls and 14% to 43% of boys experience one trauma prior to adulthood. Of these children and teens who have endured a trauma, 3% to 15% of girls will develop clinically diagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and 1% to 6% of boys will experience this. 

The Canadian Psychological Association has also compiled important information about trauma and its occurrence. The Canadian Mental Health Association (2013) has found that approximately 8% of Canadians who do experience trauma will then develop PTSD. Research from Amerigen et al. (2008) found that the estimated lifetime prevalence rate in Canada for PTSD is 9.2%

Trauma therapy for PTSD can be warranted when your teen has endured a traumatic event and is experiencing interfering symptoms. After your teen experiences a traumatic event, it is important to keep the lines of communication open. Providing them with a safe space to talk about these things can be very helpful. They might be ashamed to discuss what has happened. They might be afraid to discuss the traumatic event. They might believe they are to blame for what happened. It can also be painful to discuss traumatic events. Just letting them know you are there when they are ready to talk can be very powerful. 

Traumatic events that teens may undergo can include a large variety of events. These might include:

  • Car accidents
  • Sexual trauma, such as rape
  • Parental divorce
  • Diagnosis with a life threatening illness or disease
  • Witnessing violence
  • Bullying
  • Death of a loved one (i.e., family or friend)
  • Domestic violence or emotional abuse

Experiencing these events will not necessarily lead to PTSD. That is important to remember. How we process trauma differs from person to person. Trauma impacts mental health differently from person to person as well. Allowing emotions from the trauma to be expressed and run their natural course can be very helpful. This allows for the event to be processed in a beneficial way. But sometimes it is very hard to experience these emotions and avoidance of both emotions and activities can occur. In these situations, trauma therapy for PTSD can become an important next step. 

Symptoms of Psychological Trauma

A variety of symptoms are experienced following trauma. These include: re-experiencing symptoms such as flashbacks and nightmares regarding the traumatic event; intense distress or physical sensations when triggered by memories of the event; avoiding places, people and activities that remind you of the event; avoiding talking or thinking about the trauma; difficulty maintaining relationships and friendships; feeling detached from others and experiencing numbed emotions; losing interest in things that you used to enjoy and difficulty sleeping and concentrating. 

These symptoms can be very interfering in one’s life. If someone is experiencing symptoms to the point that they impact work, school and relationships, it is time to intervene. Trauma therapy for adults and teens might be warranted when symptoms increase and cause interference. 

How to Recognize Who Needs Trauma Therapy

As described, there are several symptoms that emerge when an individual has not processed a trauma. These symptoms can lead to decreased productivity at work, loss of friendships, withdrawal from activities that one used to enjoy and an overall decline in daily functioning. It can sometimes be difficult for the individual to recognize what is happening to them. And even if they do, they might feel great shame in speaking about the event itself. 

You might notice that your teenager is having difficulty studying and completing their homework. They might also stop socializing with their friends in the way they used to. You might notice their marks begin to decline. Perhaps a teacher reaches out to you and notices dramatic changes in their behaviour. These are all signs that it might be time to approach your teen with your concerns. Again, we want to do this in an open manner and with warmth and curiosity. You might start off by stating your concern and that you have noticed changes in their behaviour. You can let them know what you are seeing. You can also let them know that you are there to support them. And you can find someone who they can talk to about things that might be uncomfortable. This might open the door for them to want to find help. Trauma therapy for PTSD might be very difficult for someone to recognize they need. Changes in one’s mental health is not always obvious to the person. However, starting a dialogue with that person will allow them to hear your concerns. Then you might be able to plan together for next steps. They will know that you want what is best for their mental health. 

What therapy works best for teenagers?

CBT for teens is a highly effective form of treatment. It is used when delivering treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder, treatment for health anxiety, treatment for skin picking, counselling for depression and trauma therapy for adults and adolescents. Cognitive processing therapy is a type of CBT approach that works very well with teens. 

Wanting trauma therapy near me?  We use evidence-based interventions, such as cognitive processing for PTSD. When working with teens for trauma therapy, we often work one on one. This allows for them to learn the skills in a safe space and begin to discuss what has been most challenging for them. Creating a relationship with their therapist is an important step in beginning to work through stuck points that are keeping them from processing their trauma. Once they begin to identify and challenge their stuck points, they will notice a shift away from emotions such as blame, confusion, shame and guilt. Of course, they may still experience sadness, fear and anger in light of the trauma they went through. However, these are natural emotions from the trauma and are important to feel and have validated. These are all parts of the process that will occur for teens when they are able to receive trauma therapy for PTSD. 

Trauma Therapy: How Do I Get Started?

Looking for trauma therapy near me? If you are looking for trauma therapy for PTSD for your teenager, you have come to the right place!  

At FTPS, you can reach out to us for trauma therapy for adults or adolescents. We deliver cognitive processing therapy for trauma.

When you reach out to us, you will be able to learn more about our services for trauma therapy for PTSD. And you will learn about our virtual therapy services.  

We have a team of mental health clinicians working with adolescents. You can reach out to us and learn more about them!

If you are interested in trauma therapy for PTSD, please reach out to us at info@ftpsych.ca. Contact us today