Therapy for Trauma Disorders

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Acute Stress Disorder, Adjustment Disorders, and other Trauma-Related Difficulties

What are Trauma Disorders?

Trauma disorders are mental health conditions that arise, at least in part, as a result of experiencing or witnessing a terrifying or life-threatening event. While many events may be experienced as traumatic, some of the most commonly reported traumatic experiences include being the victim of abuse or neglect as a child, sexual assault, domestic violence, being in an automobile accident, and war.

Merely being exposed to a traumatic event does not necessarily lead to a trauma disorder. When an individual experiences greater than expected difficulty engaging in day-to-day activities for a prolonged period of time after the trauma, the underlying emotional, psychological, and behavioral patterns are considered to be the disorder.

Common Symptoms of PTSD and Trauma Disorders

  • Intrusive thoughts, images, and memories related to the traumatic experience
  • Hypervigilance, feeling on edge
  • Re-experiencing the trauma (“flashbacks”)
  • Difficulties with sleeping, nightmares
  • Emotional numbing
  • Depersonalization, dissociation (e.g., feeling disconnected from body/self)
  • Difficulties remembering the traumatic experience
  • Avoidance of reminders of the trauma (e.g., people, places, activities, etc)
  • Difficulty concentrating


Treatment Approaches for Trauma Disorders

There are many effective psychotherapeutic treatments for trauma disorders. The most effective treatments tend to focus on changing how a person experiences and responds to trauma-related triggers (e.g., flashbacks, reminders of past traumatic experiences) and changing the self-narrative surrounding the traumatic experience.


Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most well-researched psychotherapeutic approaches in the field of mental health. CBT therapists assist individuals with identifying and challenging unhelpful cognitive patterns, analyzing the connection between thoughts and behaviors, and developing more effective thought processes and behavioral patterns.


ACT is a behaviorally-oriented therapeutic approach that aims to modify how a person relates and responds to their internal experiences (i.e., thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, and urges) in order to more fully engage in values-based behaviors.


Exposure therapy is a behaviorally-focused treatment that involves confronting feared triggers, experiences, and/or situations in a systematic manner. Exposure therapy is among the most effective psychotherapeutic interventions.

Learn More About Trauma Disorders

Articles, resources, and other helpful information about PTSD and Trauma Disorders.

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