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PTSD Treatment Options – How to Find a Good Trauma Therapist

When it comes to therapy it’s really good to be an informed consumer. There are hundreds of different types of therapy, and every therapist is different in how they approach issues like PTSD, so whether you’ve never tried therapy before or you’ve worked with other therapists in the past and you want something different, learning about different PTSD treatment modalities can be really helpful.
So first, what is trauma? Trauma is any experience that was overwhelming, threatening, that caused pain, distress, fear to the point where you feel or felt helpless. It can include abuse, assault, witnessing tragedy, it can include frightening medical experiences, near death experiences or a severe loss. When your response to these situations interferes with your life you might receive a diagnosis of PTSD or if the abuse was ongoing for long periods, Complex PTSD (CPTSD). Symptoms include nightmares, feeling tense or anxious all the time, being jumpy, feeling numb or detached, exhausted and depressed, and struggling in relationships, sleep, and work.
While almost all therapists have some skills in treating depression, anxiety and trauma or PTSD- because these are so universal, not all therapists specialize in trauma treatment. That means that most therapists have at least a handful of tools to treat PTSD, but some therapists have a lot of skills, interventions, and resources plus experience to help you out. And that’s not exclusive to trauma, the more specific you can get with your diagnosis, the more specific you can get in finding a therapist who has interventions tailored to your needs.
OK, so what are the trauma treatment options out there and how do you find a therapist who uses them? There’s an gazillion ways to do PTSD treatment, but I’m going to highlight the ways that are research backed, meaning a strong body of consistent evidence that these treatments are effective.

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Therapy in a Nutshell and the information provided by Emma McAdam are solely intended for informational and entertainment purposes and are not a substitute for advice, diagnosis, or treatment regarding medical or mental health conditions. Although Emma McAdam is a licensed marriage and family therapist, the views expressed on this site or any related content should not be taken for medical or psychiatric advice. Always consult your physician before making any decisions related to your physical or mental health.
In therapy I use a combination of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Systems Theory, positive psychology, and a bio-psycho-social approach to treating mental illness and other challenges we all face in life. The ideas from my videos are frequently adapted from multiple sources. Many of them come from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, especially the work of Steven Hayes, Jason Luoma, and Russ Harris. The sections on stress and the mind-body connection derive from the work of Stephen Porges (the Polyvagal theory), Peter Levine (Somatic Experiencing) Francine Shapiro (EMDR), and Bessel Van Der Kolk. I also rely heavily on the work of the Arbinger institute for my overall understanding of our ability to choose our life’s direction.
And deeper than all of that, the Gospel of Jesus Christ orients my personal worldview and sense of security, peace, hope, and love

If you are in crisis, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at or 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or your local emergency services.
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