Trauma-Informed Therapy for Teens
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Traumatic experiences can profoundly influence a person’s life. It can shape their perceptions, beliefs and behaviors. Trauma does not define a person. However, it can deeply impact their sense of self, relationships, and worldview. How individuals process and integrate these experiences into their identity varies greatly.

The effects of that trauma can impact the thoughts, emotions and behaviors of teens for years to come. When a person is trying to improve those patterns, the traumatic impact should be integrated into their mental health treatment.

Trauma-informed therapy is an approach to therapy that takes the impact of trauma into consideration every step of the way. It can be integrated into the treatment of psychotherapy clients as a way to make sure they feel safe while moving along their mental health journey.

Trauma-informed therapists approach their work with compassion and empathy. They have deep respect for the resilience of individuals who have experienced trauma. They are dedicated to creating a safe and supportive space for healing and growth.

Trauma-informed therapists understand that trauma is pervasive and can play a role in mental health challenges. This is true even if the client is not seeking treatment for a specific trauma. People may seek trauma-informed therapy for a variety of reasons, such as anxiety, depression and relationship issues. They may not identify a specific traumatic event as the primary reason for seeking help. 

We’ll talk about the goals and principles of trauma-informed therapy. We’ll also talk about how it can benefit teens.

What makes trauma-informed therapy effective for teens

Trauma-informed therapy considers the potential impact of trauma on a teen’s overall well-being. It involves understanding how life experiences, emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, may contribute to the teen’s current challenges. It guides therapists to create a safe environment for teens to explore these issues.

Trauma-informed therapy can be integrated into common therapeutic modalities, such as cognitive behavioral therapy. It helps a therapist understand the multifaceted nature of trauma on a teen’s well-being. They can help them develop the most effective coping strategies to alleviate the negative emotional, cognitive and behavioral patterns that stem from the event.

There are six principles of trauma-informed therapy:

  • Safety — Trauma-informed therapy is meant to help the client feel safe throughout their treatment journey, both physically and emotionally. A therapist/facility should be welcoming and nonjudgmental. That way, the client can understand that they’re in a safe place. They can truly open up about their trauma without fear of judgment or harm. It also means ensuring that therapeutic practices do not inadvertently retraumatize the client. 
  • Collaboration and mutuality — If your teen is seeking therapy, it’s because they’re looking for the support and insight of someone who doesn’t have stakes in their life. But it’s important that they work side by side with the provider without a power imbalance. Collaboration in trauma-informed therapy means that the teen plays a significant role in the planning and execution of their own treatment. 
  • Trustworthiness and transparency — It’s impossible for a teen to achieve their goals if they cannot trust the therapist helping them reach those goals. Trauma-informed therapy involves setting respectful boundaries and expectations. Then, the young client can trust their provider and know what to expect during their time with them.
  • Empowerment and choice — Seeking therapy is an important step in a teen’s mental health journey. Feeling empowered and motivated to improve is what helps them continue it. Trauma-informed therapy will provide teens with validation for their feelings. They should understand their rights. That means having the choice to not share details they aren’t comfortable talking about yet. By being handed over the reins from their provider, they will feel in control of their own journey, not being forced along it.
  • Peer support — A teen should feel supported throughout their mental health journey. That means feeling like they aren’t alone in their challenges. Sharing their thoughts and feelings with peers who have gone through similar experiences can help reduce the stigma around their mental health. They can also find comfort in others.
  • Cultural, historical and gender issues — A trauma-informed therapist will take every aspect of a teen’s person into account for their treatment. That’s everything from their cultural beliefs and historical trauma to their gender identity. These issues are validated and respected by the therapist. It’s also considered during their treatment options. Their treatment is free from stereotypes and biases.

Teens who can benefit from trauma-informed therapy 

Everyone should feel safe and empowered during their mental health care treatment. Trauma-informed therapy is especially beneficial for teens who have experienced trauma that has led to mental health disorders, including:

Not every teen has a diagnosable mental health disorder that stems from a traumatic event. Trauma-informed therapy can also be an effective course of action for people who have experienced chronic adversity. 

There are many challenges that teens face, which can lead to trauma-linked thoughts, emotions and behaviors. These may include:

  • Bullying in school
  • Racism or discrimination 
  • Homophobia, biphobia or transphobia
  • Unsafe or unstable home situations
  • Assault or abuse

Lightfully Behavioral Health can integrate trauma-informed therapy into a teen’s treatment plan

At Lightfully, we create an environment of trustworthiness, transparency and safety. Clients are encouraged to share openly and honestly. They shouldn’t have a fear of judgment or re-traumatization. We can utilize trauma-informed therapy at any level of care. We help teens address their trauma at their own pace. They’ll gain the tools they need to manage the mental and emotional impact of the event or experience.

Trauma-informed therapy is incorporated into our framework of evidence-based, clearly defined, data-driven and whole-person-centered care. Change is possible. When you’re ready to take the first step toward helping your teen confront their trauma, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of them.

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