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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Stellate Ganglion Block: A Breakthrough for Trauma Victims

Stellate Ganglion Block: A Breakthrough for Trauma Victims

According to the Evidence Synthesis Program (ESP), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the third most common psychiatric diagnosis among veterans treated by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), with more than 7 million adults in the United States struggling from the disorder. PTSD occurs subsequently with traumatic events such as natural disasters, terrorist situations, severe accidents, abuse, traumatic childhoods, critical health concerns, or physical or sexual assault.

The Department of Defense and healthcare scientists spent years searching and pursuing a series of solutions that would be safe, successful, and fast-acting in treating PTSD. Around 2010, military medical facilities started offering clients with PTSD a procedure customarily used to treat and relieve pain. The procedure was known as Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB).

What Is a Stellate Ganglion Block?

I bet you’re asking yourself what a stellate ganglion block is and how it can help trauma victims. The stellate ganglion is a cluster of nerve cells located in the spine. An SGB is an outpatient procedure involving the injection of a local anesthetic surrounding the stellate ganglion to obstruct sympathetic nerve impulses to the head, neck, and face. In other words, healing PTSD is now possible by administering a shot.

How a Stellate Ganglion Block Is Administered

The client is typically sedated during this procedure. A fine needle is positioned near the stellate ganglion using x-ray guidance, and an anesthetic is injected. The cluster of nerve cells that make up the stellate ganglion help control the body’s “fight or flight” reaction. The fight or flight response is a common reaction to shield an individual from potential danger; the nerve bodies transport fight or flight messages to the spinal cord and brain.

Individuals who struggle with PTSD can experience extreme and debilitating symptoms, including anxiety, depression, insomnia, avoidance of situations similar to the trauma, lack of emotions, and disturbing flashbacks. Almost everyone will experience a variety of responses after a traumatic event, but most people experience improvement in primary symptoms without treatment or medication. However, if symptoms do not decrease, an SGB could benefit the individual.

Benefits of a Stellate Ganglion Block

  • Improves PTSD symptoms
  • Reduces pain
  • Provides a biological approach
  • Offers fast-acting relief within minutes or a few days after the procedure
  • Enhances mood
  • Increases compliance to participate because it does not require daily administration

What Else Can a Stellate Ganglion Block Treat?

Along with improving and reducing PTSD symptoms, an SGB can also be administered to:

  • Detect the cause of pain in the face, head, arms, and chest
  • Manage pain in the head, neck, chest, or arms that result from nerve injuries, the effects of shingles, or angina
  • Decrease sweating of the face, head, arms, and hands
  • Treat sympathetically maintained pain
  • Minister complex regional pain syndrome
  • Reduce migraines and hot flashes
  • Treat the peripheral vertebral disease

How Effective Is a Stellate Ganglion Block?

The effectiveness of a stellate ganglion block varies depending on the individual. Some clients report pain relief directly after the injection, but there is a chance the pain may reoccur hours later as the local anesthetic wears off. In contrast, other clients have increased extended-term relief that endures the local anesthetic period and helps them decrease their medication use and increase their involvement in physical therapy.

How long the relief continues is different for each person. Some clients could go days or weeks without pain or presenting PTSD symptoms. Clients typically need a series of injections to continue the positive results. There are occasions where it will only take two injections, but other times it could require up to ten injections. Fortunately, the comfort tends to last longer with each treatment.

Side Effects and Risks of Complications of a Stellate Ganglion Block

There is a very low risk of complications from an SGB. The client will not feel any numbness in the face, but they will have a droopy eye, redness of the eye, warmth in the face, and may become hoarse. The side effects are temporary and only last a few hours. Some may not detect relief immediately, but most clients report feeling results within minutes or days.

Possible complications could include:

  • Vascular puncture
  • Neural puncture
  • Pneumothorax
  • Thyroid injury
  • Esophageal or tracheal puncture
  • Transient Horner syndrome
  • Intravascular injection
  • Infections

After the procedure is complete, the client should avoid driving or participating in any energetic activities for 24 hours. The individual should relax and take it slow until the following day when they can resume normal behaviors.

If trauma symptoms continue after an SGB procedure, the client is at an increased risk of stress. It is essential to recognize SGB as a highly effective treatment method that can provide quick results with extended relief from unbearable symptoms.

Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) is a true breakthrough in PTSD treatment. It is a powerful opportunity for people with PTSD and other co-occurring conditions to find relief from debilitating symptoms. If you or a loved one could benefit from SGB, we want to help. Crownview Co-Occurring Institute in Oceanside, CA, offers psychiatric treatment for various levels of mental health disorders. Our individualized approach guarantees 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 again. At CCI, we offer treatment plans to meet every physical and emotional need for recovery. Let CCI alleviate the trauma in your life with evidence-based treatment services for a successful long-term recovery. Call (760) 477-4754 today to learn about our effective treatment programs.