How Does A Treatment Center Address Trauma in Their Intensive Outpatient Program?

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How Does A Treatment Center Address Trauma in Their Intensive Outpatient Program?

Trauma can come in all different forms. Anyone can be affected by trauma at any age. Unfortunately, the effects of trauma can make it difficult to move forward with life. Day-to-day tasks can become overwhelming. Because of this, addressing trauma is crucial in addiction recovery. Our facility addresses trauma with various methods and intensive outpatient treatment (IOP) programs. These services can help men learn how to cope, heal, and overcome the adverse effects of trauma.

What Is Trauma?

Trauma is an emotional response to a catastrophic event. For example, one may have witnessed a trauma or experienced rape, a tragic accident, or a natural disaster. One may feel sudden shock or even denial associated with trauma. A traumatic event may have long-term effects on an individual’s life, including their:

  • Psychological health
  • Physical health
  • Spiritual well-being
  • Social well-being


As stated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the effects of
trauma can impact individuals, communities, and families. Trauma is considered to be a behavioral health concern. It requires a long recovery process and an intensive healing process.

Anyone Can Be Affected

Adults and children in America commonly experience trauma. Trauma is a common feature in the life of an individual with substance use disorder (SUD) and co-occurring mental health conditions. The effects of trauma can place a heavy burden on an individual’s mental health.

Everyone responds to trauma in their unique way. The effects of trauma can bring challenges to one’s relationships, workplace, and other aspects of their life. One way to cope with trauma is by addressing the event by exploring different treatment options.

Using EMDR to Address Trauma

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is an effective option for trauma. EMDR is a type of trauma-focused psychotherapy that can help treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

PTSD is defined as having difficulty overcoming a stressful event. Unwanted symptoms can last for years, especially if left untreated. After experiencing trauma, some individuals have difficulty understanding why they were faced with such a tragic event. Feelings of blame and fear can be mentally crippling.

EMDR can help bring relief to those who are struggling with the effects of PTSD. This proven technique helps individuals process disturbing thoughts, memories, and emotions related to the traumatic event. This then allows them to heal.

How EMDR Addresses Trauma

For example, an individual will focus on their back-and-forth eye movement or a sound while they recall a bad memory. This could involve a moving finger, a beeping tone from one ear to the other, or a flashing light. EMDR movement typically lasts for 30 seconds. Each movement is done until a shift happens and information is thoroughly processed. A typical session runs for approximately 50-90 minutes. Most individuals notice significant improvement after just a few therapy sessions. The benefits last long after the previous session with an individual’s provider.

How Family Therapy Addresses Trauma

According to a publication by SAMSHA, family therapy can assist families in trauma recovery. Sometimes family members have a trauma-like response to a family member’s mental health condition or SUD. When an individual faces challenges with addiction or co-occurring psychiatric disorders, the entire family can be affected. For example, the effects of secrets or lies can build up. This causes tension and mistrust within a family.

Family therapy can help each family member make positive yet specific changes as the individual in recovery progresses. The family as a whole can benefit from learning healthy family dynamics. If a single family member or couple is already unhappy, an individual’s behaviors or mental illness can throw the family into greater turmoil.

Family therapy can help individuals involved find relief from this load of responsibility. This therapy can also help each family member learn how to cope rather than shut down, act out, or avoid the underlying problem altogether.

How Animal-Assisted Therapy Addresses Trauma

Some individuals have difficulty responding to talk therapy. For example, a person with autism may have problems communicating their troubles effectively. This can make it especially difficult to heal from trauma. Animal-assisted therapy or interventions can be an effective way for individuals to heal from the effects of trauma. The journal Frontiers in Psychology states that animals have a long-standing history in psychiatric treatment.

The journal reports that there has been an increase in the prevalence of studies on animal-assisted interventions (AAI) in treating trauma. Clinical research has shown positive results, with individuals showing improvement in anxiety, depression, and PTSD.

There is also evidence that animals may serve as a unique element in addressing trauma and PTSD. Animals provide a comforting reminder that danger is no longer evident. An individual facing difficulties moving forward from trauma may present numbed emotions. An animal who is present can provide warmth and positive emotions. Many individuals who have experienced trauma may distance themselves from others. AAI can help by reducing loneliness. Animals encourage healthy connections.

Moving Forward With Our Facility

Choosing to pursue treatment for trauma and the effects of PTSD can be difficult. Many men feel discomfort with discussing past traumatic events. However, suppressing the effects of trauma can be detrimental to one’s mental health, ultimately worsening it. This is why treatment is a crucial path to recovery.

Searching for the right treatment center can be a lengthy process. Finding a facility that tailors its services to one’s needs can improve an individual’s recovery outcome. We pride ourselves on being a trauma-informed facility. Various approaches used in different IOP programs have helped men effectively heal from trauma.