Without treatment or support, trauma can have a lasting impact on your emotional well-being. Online therapy services can be an especially viable treatment option, as untreated trauma can sometimes cause secondary mental health disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. They can even affect your nervous system, which governs your fight-or-flight responses.
As a licensed telehealth therapist, I treat patients with these conditions via virtual sessions. So, let's dive deeper into how online counseling can help you overcome trauma.
What to Expect from Online Therapy
Therapy can be a useful tool to prevent re-traumatization and empower you to regain control over your life. This reduces the influence of trauma on your day-to-day well-being.
From my experience, a typical online therapy session lasts longer than an in-person one—usually around an hour to an hour and a half. However, this depends on your counselor.
In your initial session, you discuss the concerns you want to work on with your therapist. We may establish a treatment option, review your goals, discuss "homework" or exercises to do between sessions, and plan follow-up steps for future appointments.
» Need a supportive space to process your emotions? Try online therapy for depression.
My Online Experience With Traumatized Patients
I believe online therapy can be an excellent way to initiate trauma therapy. For example, you might be hesitant about attending in-person therapy due to fear or social anxiety.
I've worked with many active and past military personnel who've developed PTSD after being in combat. I also notice that they often isolate themselves from social life, feeling safe only at home. This made online therapy a valuable option for them to start healing since they could worry less about potential exposure to trauma triggers in public.
How Online Therapists Identify Trauma
Online counselors assist you in identifying and addressing trauma by establishing a supportive environment and employing evidence-based techniques.
To identify trauma, we first begin by building rapport and establishing trust. We then use different tools and assessments to gather information about significant childhood events and assess the severity of your current symptoms resulting from traumatic experiences.
» Starting your online counseling journey? First, check out these hacks for online therapy.
Treatment Methods for Different Trauma
Therapists utilize various evidence-based therapies to help you work through your trauma and reduce associated symptoms. The focus of many of these treatments is to desensitize you to the distressing event and gradually re-expose you to it.
Common types of therapy used for trauma may include:
- Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
- Prolonged exposure therapy
- Cognitive processing therapy
- Narrative exposure therapy
In narrative exposure therapy, you may write about your traumatic event and review it multiple times. The goal here is to reduce the distress associated with your memories and help you practice coping tools to manage it.
Over time, the traumatic memories may lose their ability to trigger extreme distress, which subsequently helps to normalize your central nervous system's physiological responses.
Coping Mechanisms for Trauma
Experiencing intense and overwhelming emotions related to trauma is entirely normal. In fact, trauma can often trigger the development of panic disorder, where you frequently experience panic attacks in response to triggers.
So, online therapists try to equip you with useful tools to help you regulate and process your emotional responses outside sessions.
These tools include deep breathing, grounding techniques, positive affirmations, body scans, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualizing a safe or happy place. In addition, we may also practice using mindfulness and meditation. Daily journaling is another possible method to process challenging feelings and record your progress over time.
We may also recommend "comfort objects" like stress balls to help distract you from negative thought patterns and overwhelming emotions.
» Learn more about how to manage panic attacks.
Online Therapy for Trauma: Get the Help You Need
I believe therapy is essential for individuals whose lives are significantly impacted by traumatic experiences. Online therapy sites, such as BetterHelp and Online-Therapy.com, are valuable resources that may help you overcome life's burdens and traumas.
However, you should first evaluate your condition and consult your physician to decide if you need therapy. Just remember that you don't need to face your traumas alone.
» Need more information? Learn more about how much online therapy costs.