What is Trauma Informed?

Over the past decade, there has been a greater awareness on the effects of trauma as more and more people are learning about how trauma impacts the brain and body. Emerging research has changed the way therapists work with clients who have PTSD and has brought new meaning to the phrase “trauma informed.” You may see many therapy websites that note they offer “trauma informed” services. But what exactly does this mean and how can you identify if this statement is in fact true? First, our thoughts on the meaning of trauma.

What is Trauma?

When we live through a distressing experience, something that is outside the body’s ability to process, control, or navigate, it is considered a trauma. A trauma is not the result of the event itself but rather your body’s reaction to the event. In the face of a traumatic experience, our nervous system (the part of our body that takes in signals from the environment) automatically reacts to protect us from the threat. These responses include fight, flight, freeze, or fawn. Imagine crossing the street and a car is speeding your way. This experience registers as a threat in your body and rather than taking the time to think about what you should do, your nervous system will kick into high gear to protect you. You most likely would run across the street or back to the curb to get away from the car. What many people do not realize is that this response happens at lightning speed. When our nervous system detects a threat, our body immediately shuts down digestion, speeds up our heart rate, and turns off our thinking to protect us from the threat. This means our memory of the event is not fully processed and our body becomes stuck in the trauma. When we experience similar sensory signals (sounds, sights, smells, feelings that trigger the past trauma) at a later time, we relive the experience, leading to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Being Trauma Informed

Trauma informed therapists have been specifically trained in researched based trauma modalities for working with clients. A therapist who is trauma informed understands and considers the pervasive nature of trauma and how it affects someone on multiple levels (somatically, relationally, emotionally, cognitively, belief system). In sessions, offering safety and avoiding re-traumatizing clients is an important goal throughout the therapeutic process. We believe that for therapists to truly be “trauma informed,” additional training and consultations beyond what is provided in graduate programs is needed. In our practice, we have specific training in approaches that target physical/somatic symptoms, dissociative symptoms, emotional processing and understanding, and memory reconsolidation. This is what we would consider an integrative approach (utilizing multiple modalities rather than using one baseline approach for all clients). Through an integrative approach to trauma therapy, we aim to not only help our clients process the memory, but also help the body complete the trauma response and become unstuck. Some of the most common trauma treatment modalities include:
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Somatic Experiencing (SE)
  • Ego State Therapy
  • Interpersonal Neurobiology
  • Play Therapy
  • Sandtray
  • Internal Family Systems (IFS)
  • Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)
  • Trauma Conscious Yoga
It is important when seeking a trauma informed therapist to ask potential therapists about their training in trauma treatment modalities. Our team at MCC continuously strives to be transparent in our trauma informed approached with clients and are here to support you through trauma healing.
Rosalie Piedra is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Registered Play Therapist™. She is the owner and clinical director of Mindful Connections Counseling. To inquire about services with Rosalie, visit our contact page here: https://mindfulconnectionstx.com/contact/