Healing the Trauma Brain
Trauma affects the brain as much as other parts of the body. The effect of trauma is intensely felt on the brain as it is translated into poor cognitive development, exaggerated stimuli responses, and behavioral changes. Psychotherapy interventions and psychotic treatments not only focus on alleviating physical symptoms related to trauma but also healing the brain. There are various techniques and theories related to healing the traumatic brain. This discussion presents Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, why it is the most preferred therapy technique and the various aspects related to the healing of the trauma brain.
For a better understanding of the healing of the brain, it is essential first to elaborate on the effects of trauma on the brain. Research shows that trauma’s most profound effects on the brain are that it causes the brain to remain hypervigilant, suppresses memory and impulse control, and traps the individual in a constant state of solid emotional activity (Terpou et al., 2019).
When a person is exposed to reminders of traumatic events, the brain triggers exaggerated emotional responses that manifest in the physical body, such as pain, anger tirades and outbursts, irritability, and insomnia. Additionally, following the increased stress hormone activity caused by trauma, the brain’s alarm system is recalibrated, compromising the brain’s communication with the physical body.
The main parts of the brain that are affected by trauma include the hippocampus, which controls memory; the amygdala, which is responsible for emotions and instincts; and the prefrontal cortex- responsible for emotional and impulse regulation. Additionally, these three parts work in unison to manage stress. Thus, the central focus of the healing of the brain should be to counter the effects of trauma on the affected parts of the brain and their consequences. Due to the brain’s neuroplasticity, the brain can develop new connections and reverse the effects of trauma.
One of my preferred therapy techniques when dealing with trauma is trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy. According to the American Psychological Association, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a form of psychological treatment that has demonstrated effectiveness in treating a range of disorders, including anxiety, drug use problems, depression, and other severe mental illnesses (APA, n.d.). Cohen, Deblinger and Mannarino (2018) note that CBT is a goal-oriented and structured psychosocial therapy offered to clients, their families, and caregivers to elicit behavioral change.
Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a form of CBT that was formed by scientists with the aim of helping children and adolescents recover from trauma symptoms. It is an evidence-based treatment that has been evaluated, revised, and found effective in improving children’s symptoms of trauma responses. It was initially meant to help children and youth with PTSD following sexual abuse (Weymer et al., 2020). However, TF-CBT has been studied and used in many other populations of traumatized youth and found effective.
My most preferred aspect of trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy involves developing efforts to change thinking patterns. Changing the thinking pattern is done by the client and the therapist by setting clear therapy goals and working towards achieving them. TF-CBT is done within 8-25 therapy sessions in which the client is most likely to have identified their distortion in thinking, developed a better understanding of behavior and learned how to use problem-solving to cope with difficult situations that cause the cognitive and behavioral problems.
It is essential to enhance an excellent client-therapist relationship to enhance the success of the therapy intervention. Additionally, the client learns to develop a sense of ability and confidence, helping them to overcome trauma effects and cope with trauma experiences. Furthermore, CBT teaches the client to face their fears rather than avoid them and learn how to calm their mind and body when faced with traumatic experiences (APA, n.d.).
As mentioned earlier, the neuroplasticity characteristic of the brain makes it able to rewire connections and promote healing. Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy promotes the healing of the trauma brain by enhancing its neuroplasticity, thus enabling it to develop new ways of dealing with previous trauma-associated cognitions. According to Cohen et al. (2019), TF-CBT helps transfer trauma-related memories from the amygdala, where they are connected to fear and exaggerated emotional response, to other parts of the brain, whereby encountering them does not cause adverse emotional responses through the development of new trauma narratives.
Additionally, TF-CBT has been found effective in correcting or decreasing problematic activity in the prefrontal cortex and amygdala, which leads to trauma symptoms alleviation and the reduction in hyperactivity that causes adverse emotional reactions.
In conclusion, it is imperative to understand the effects of trauma on the brain to understand the healing of the trauma brain. The different therapy techniques that promote healing of the trauma brain should be utilized while considering effective client-therapist relationships. My most preferred therapy technique in healing the trauma brain is TF-CBT. It is one of the most effective therapy approaches in alleviating trauma-related symptoms and promoting the healing of the trauma brain, as discussed above.
Cohen, J. A., Deblinger, E., & Mannarino, A. P. (2018). Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy for children and families. Psychotherapy Research, 28(1), 47-57. https://doi.org/10.1080/10503307.2016.1208375
Terpou, B. A., Harricharan, S., McKinnon, M. C., Frewen, P., Jetly, R., & Lanius, R. A. (2019). The effects of trauma on brain and body: A unifying role for the midbrain periaqueductal gray. Journal of Neuroscience Research, 97(9), 1110-1140. https://doi.org/10.1002/jnr.24447
The American Psychological Association (APA). (n.d.). Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/cognitive-behavioral#
Wymer, B., Ohrt, J. H., Morey, D., & Swisher, S. (2020). Integrating expressive arts techniques into trauma-focused treatment with children. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 42(2), 124-139. https://doi.org/10.17744/mehc.42.2.03
Healing the Trauma Brain Instructions
For this discussion thread, share a preferred aspect of a theory or a favored technique to be used, or that you are currently using, in addressing the \"healing\" of the trauma brain. You can use your TF-CBT text by Cohen if you are not treating trauma presently. Please take the time to elaborate on the topic you choose.