What Is Trauma-Informed Therapy?

What Is Trauma-Informed Therapy?

What do you think when you hear the word trauma? Some might think of sexual abuse, battle in a warzone, or natural disasters. While these are common traumas treated regularly, there are many other types of trauma a person can experience, including bullying, physical abuse, emotional neglect, assault, addiction, shame, or a car wreck.

Trauma can mean many different things according to an individual, and no box confines trauma to one set type or one way people will react to a traumatic event. The same event can have a completely different impact on specific individuals, and not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will have subsequent trauma.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) defines trauma as exposure to an event involving death, serious injury, or sexual abuse in the following ways:

  • A direct encounter with traumatic events
  • Witnessing the traumatic event firsthand as it happens to another individual
  • Discovering that the traumatic event transpired with a family member or friend
  • Encountering excessive exposure to aversive elements of the traumatic event

Trauma-Informed Therapy

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), individual trauma results from an occurrence or set of circumstances experienced by a person as physically and emotionally harmful and has ongoing adverse consequences on the person's physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.

Trauma-informed therapy is a strength-based approach to caring for people with compassion and clarity about boundaries and expectations to avoid unintentionally triggering a trauma or stress response.

Trauma-informed therapy is not about a particular intervention but rather about shaping techniques from the perspective of the individual’s trauma history, needs, and triggers.

Using trauma-informed therapy involves reporting clients' trauma and its impact on their behavior, mental health, and ability to engage in treatment. Trauma-informed therapists assume that a client could have a history of trauma and will take steps to prevent unintentionally triggering or re-traumatizing the client in treatment.

The Guiding Principles of Trauma-Informed Therapy

Trauma-informed therapy follows a set of guiding principles that outline how therapists can work to decrease the possibility of re-traumatization. These principles are established throughout a variety of service settings. Instead of providing a set of procedures, the principles can be understood and applied in ways applicable to a specific type of environment. The fundamental principles essential to a trauma-informed approach are described in detail below.


Ensuring a person's physical and emotional safety is the first critical step to offering trauma-informed therapy. The physical setting is safe and interpersonal relations encourage a feeling of security. A trauma-informed therapist will take steps to ensure that clients feel both physically and emotionally safe in their sessions.

Trustworthiness and Transparency

Trauma-informed therapists are open and honest with clients. Decisions are directed with transparency to construct and conserve trust with clients, family members, and staff.

Peer Support

Peer support is critical in creating safety and hope, building trust, increasing collaboration, and utilizing the client’s lived experiences to support recovery and healing. Peers refers to individuals with lived experiences of trauma and have also been referred to as trauma survivors.

Collaboration and Mutuality

Importance is focused on mutual understanding and leveling power differences between the therapist and client. Trauma-informed therapists aim to empower clients by educating them about their options and giving them an active role in their care. The counselor and client make decisions and share control in the counseling process.

Empowerment, Voice, and Choice

Throughout the counseling sessions, the individuals’ strengths and experiences are acknowledged and built upon to prioritize empowerment and skill-building while providing an environment that allows clients to feel validated and affirmed. The client has choice and control where they understand their rights and responsibilities.

Cultural, Historical, and Gender Issues

Trauma-informed therapists ensure they are educated and up-to-date on research and best practices for working with all types of clients who have experienced trauma. They know each client's unique cultural considerations based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, religion, gender identity, or geography. The therapist will offer access to gender-responsive services, influence the healing value of traditional cultural connections, incorporate policies and protocols that are receptive to the client's racial, ethnic, and cultural needs, and acknowledge and address past trauma.

Benefits of Trauma-Informed Therapy

Many individuals with trauma have trouble maintaining healthy and open relationships. Trauma-informed therapy has many benefits, but the most significant include:

  • It allows clients to participate more fully in their mental health care
  • Clients can develop trusting relationships
  • It can help improve long-term health outcomes for the client
  • It acknowledges the need to understand a client’s life experiences to deliver effective care
  • It can enhance client engagement, treatment adherence, and the well-being of providers and staff

An article from The Open Health Services and Policy Journal provides a consensus definition to help understand a trauma-informed approach. Trauma-informed care is a strengths-based structure grounded in understanding the trauma and responsiveness to the effect. Trauma-informed therapy accentuates physical, psychological, and emotional safety for the client and the counselor. It also produces opportunities for trauma survivors to reconstruct a sense of control and empowerment in their lives.

If you or a loved one has experienced a traumatic experience, consider seeking trauma-informed therapy. Trauma-informed care has significantly improved mental health care communities in supporting those who have gone through traumatic experiences. It has changed the face of modern healthcare and expanded to various service settings. Crownview Co-Occurring Institute in San Diego, CA, offers psychiatric treatment for multiple levels of mental health disorders. We provide individualized care that meets the physical and emotional conditions to concentrate on your plan for a successful long-term recovery. Our personalized approach ensures that each client receives quality care with successful results. We will support you from crisis to independence by providing a healing environment with a caring team of professionals ready to help you gain control of your life. Let us ease the trauma in your life.

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What Is Recreational Therapy?

What Is Recreational Therapy?

There is endless information concerning the importance of an individual’s well-being worldwide. Mental health and wellness have become significant concepts today. Of the many available treatment methods that improve one’s mental health, participation in recreational activities can create an array of positive attributes.

Recreational Therapy: Having Fun While Healing

The American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA) defines recreational therapy as a "systematic process that utilizes recreation and other activity-based interventions to address the needs of individuals with illness and/or disabling conditions, as a means to psychological and physical health, recovery and well-being."

The unique feature of recreational therapy that makes it unlike other treatments is recreational modalities in the designed intervention strategies. Recreational treatment is adapted for each person by their past, present, and future interests and lifestyle.

Activities such as listening to music, taking photos, or even getting a massage are fun and relaxing and may seem ordinary. Still, when applied as a strategy toward treatment in mental health, they become tools for a healthy mindset.

Recreational therapists work with clients to set goals and develop plans to meet their needs. Recreational therapy can take place in a variety of settings, including:

  • Assisted living facilities
  • Sports programs
  • Substance use programs
  • Correctional facilities
  • Community centers
  • Hospitals
  • Schools
  • Inpatient and outpatient mental health facilities and programs
  • Skilled nursing facilities

A little help is all that is needed throughout the wellness journey. We encounter incidents such as mental health disorders, injuries, and diseases that make the mental health journey challenging and discouraging. Once the client can cooperate with a recreational therapist, they are more likely to find the peace of mind they strive for.

Benefits of Recreational Therapy

With recreational therapy, individuals with mental health disorders can approach their day with expressive interest that can be used throughout their lives. Clients can learn coping skills, time management, and social skills and discover community resources to help battle these risk factors.

The Journal of American Art Therapy Association noted that scientific studies have implied that an hour of creative activity can reduce stress and positively affect mental health, regardless of artistic experience.

These organized activities initiate a sense of achievement in individuals. Some other benefits of recreational therapy include:

  • Improved physical, cognitive, and emotional needs
  • Enhanced the quality of life
  • Strengthened social connections
  • Improved functioning and independence
  • Reduced symptoms
  • Developed skills for daily living

Activities in Recreational Therapy

The therapist will match the client’s activities to their personal interests. Some of the activities that may be part of a recreational therapy program include:

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy reduces stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. Massage therapy also releases endorphins and improves self-awareness.

Art Therapy

Art therapy can help individuals discover suppressed emotions and offer a sense of independence while decreasing stress, fear, and anxiety. It can improve the client’s emotional expression, self-esteem, and self-awareness.

Music Therapy

Music therapy helps people manage emotional problems associated with feeling overcome with distress. It allows the individual to put their problems into perspective. Scientific research has revealed that music therapy can influence physiological and psychological processes that improve physical and mental health.


Yoga helps increase awareness and concentration because it is a mind and body practice. It teaches clients how to sustain the attentiveness necessary to remain mentally strong and focused. Yoga can also help decrease stress and anxiety and enhance physical and mental health.

Other types of activities that may be used as therapeutic recreations include:

  • Sports
  • Board games
  • Video games
  • Animal interactions
  • Dancing
  • Gardening
  • Creative writing
  • Storytelling
  • Dramas
  • Cooking classes
  • Community excursions

When an activity is therapeutic, it improves the quality of life and well-being. Recreational therapists access the fun associated with the individual’s desired activity and use it as the means of treatment. They identify barriers and develop plans to help clients manage mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns that often reduce the quality of life.

Why Choose Recreational Therapy?

Working with a recreational therapist can increase mood, cognitive abilities, memory, physical health, and self-confidence. Researchers believe physical movement, creativity, and social interaction help provide these extensive health advantages. Therefore, it is safe to say that recreational therapy has a crucial role in mental health treatment.

If you think recreational therapy could benefit you or someone you love, talk with a healthcare provider about the option of employing the power of play to accomplish a positive mindset and healthy mentality.

Finding additional resources for treatment near you is simple. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers the behavioral health treatment services locator to help find mental health services that provide specialty care in your area.

Having fun while improving your mental health is possible. Recreational therapy takes activities you enjoy and transforms them into therapeutic techniques to improve your overall well-being. If you think recreational treatment could benefit you or someone you love, Crownview Co-Occurring Institute in San Diego, CA, is here to help you. We provide the necessary assessments to determine the best course of treatment for your mental health. Our devoted team of professionals can provide each client with advanced care to deliver high-quality treatment services. Here, you will know you are in a safe place that offers kindness and compassion for the healing process. We understand the importance of an individualized approach to treatment, so we develop comprehensive treatment plans unique to each client. We specialize in psychiatric conditions, where clients have the opportunity to learn and practice life skills required to take control of their life.

Ready to Take the Next Step?

Contact our admissions team to learn how Crownview can help you or your loved one.

Call Now 760-231-1170

General Anxiety Disorder: When Worry Becomes Overwhelming

General Anxiety Disorder: When Worry Becomes Overwhelming

General anxiety disorder (GAD) is categorized by extreme anxiety and worry about various activities or events and occurs for at least six months. The unrelenting and uncontrollable worry accompanying GAD can disrupt a person’s life and make it seem as if they are frozen in time.

Individuals with GAD experience worry that overwhelms them. The concerns can quickly generalize to multiple areas of everyday activities, including health, relationships, occupational circumstances, and financial situations. Typically, the persistent worry will eventually stimulate cautious and avoidant behaviors, such as traveling or activities that could be dangerous. Furthermore, an individual's excessive anxiety makes it more difficult to take chances or try new things.

Signs and Symptoms of General Anxiety Disorder

Individuals who struggle with GAD can experience uncomfortable physical symptoms, such as fatigue and sore muscles, and trouble sleeping or concentrating. GAD is commonly misdiagnosed due to clients complaining of somatic symptoms instead of anxiety. The incorrect diagnosis of GAD impacts 87% of clients with the condition. Instead, they are considered to have some form of mental disturbance that includes neither anxiety disorder nor general anxiety disorder, resulting in incorrect treatment for the client.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) provides diagnostic criteria for GAD, including:

  • Excessive anxiety and worry for at least six months
  • Difficulty controlling the stress and worrying
  • Anxiety resulting in significant distress or impairment in social and occupational areas
  • Stress does not apply to any physical cause
  • Anxiety is coupled with three or more of the following symptoms for at least six months: restlessness or feeling on edge, becoming easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating or mind going blank, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbance.

Individuals with GAD are often highly nervous about daily circumstances such as job security or performance, finances, health, the well-being of family members, being late, and finishing daily tasks. Symptoms can fluctuate over time and can be worse during stressful situations.

Treatments for General Anxiety Disorder

GAD is usually treated with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of the two. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) are two treatment approaches commonly used for general anxiety disorder.

Many medications can effectively treat GAD, including antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

CBT is an evidence-based form of psychotherapy. It is sometimes referred to as “talk therapy” and teaches the person different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to certain situations that help them feel less anxious or worried.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

ACT involves a different approach to negative thoughts than CBT. When applying the ACT approach, negative reviews are transformed into positive affirmations through techniques such as mindfulness and goal-setting to decrease discomfort, worry, and anxiety.

While CBT has been used for many years as a practical approach for GAD, ACT is a new psychotherapy treatment, so there is less evidence-based material to determine its efficacy. However, different therapy approaches work for different types of individuals.


SSRI and SNRI antidepressants are commonly used to treat depression, but they can also help treat GAD symptoms. They can take several weeks to begin working. Additionally, these medications may cause side effects, such as headaches, nausea, or trouble sleeping. The side effects are typically not severe for most individuals, specifically if the dosage starts low and increases gradually over time.

Anti-Anxiety Medications

Benzodiazepines are anti-anxiety sedative medications that can help manage severe forms of GAD. They are very effective for decreasing anxiety quickly, but some individuals build a tolerance and require higher doses to get the same initial effect. However, another type of anti-anxiety medication called buspirone has a lower probability of becoming addictive. Buspirone has to be in the body’s system for three to four weeks for the individuals to see an improvement in symptoms.

When psychotherapy and medication receive the required time needed to be effective, the client should start seeing decreased GAD symptoms. Even though three to four weeks can seem unbearable for someone with overwhelming worry and stress, it is just a moment of servitude compared to a lifetime of freedom.

Seeking Help for General Anxiety Disorder

It can feel overwhelming when searching for help with mental health disorders. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers the Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator to help find mental health services in your area. In addition, you can find helpful information about treatment facilities that provide specialty care by using SAMHSA’s Early Serious Mental Illness Treatment Locator.

There should be no shame in seeking help for those struggling with mental health disorders. You are not alone. General anxiety disorder (GAD) is one of the most common mental health disorders and impacts more than 20% of adults each year. If you or a loved one are ready to start your journey to recovery, we want to help. Crownview Co-Occurring Institute in Oceanside, CA, delivers psychiatric treatment for many levels of mental disorders. We understand that each client is unique, so we offer individualized treatment plans to guarantee quality care with positive recovery results. We will support you from crisis to independence by providing a healing environment with a compassionate team of professionals ready to help you take back control of your life. Let us help you with evidence-based treatments for a successful long-term recovery. Call Crownview Co-Occurring Institute today at (760) 477-4754 to learn more about treatment services.