Teens who experience trauma can often recover from the experience over the course of several months. However, sometimes the trauma is severe enough, or other factors affect the recovery rate, and your teen may need professional help to deal with the trauma. Several factors that affect recovery, and you can learn more about them in our blog Does my Teenager have PTSD? The good news is that teens typically respond well to treatment and go on to live successful lives.
Trauma Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)
Often known as the “talking therapy,” TF-CBT is tailored to the age and emotional health of your teen and helps them process through what happened. The premise is that when people avoid talking or thinking about something bad, they will continue to be on edge and the mind will remain in a place of being unable to process the emotions and memories and move on.
TF-CBT encourages participants to express thoughts and feelings about the trauma in a safe and supporting environment. Therapist work to equip teens with skills to make sense of what happened and manage their feelings about the event(s). The skills and techniques also teach them how to reduce stress and worry.
Psychological First Aid (PFA)
PFA is commonly taught to caregivers to help children or teens who have been through violence close to home or where they live or go to school. It focused on giving the teen comfort and support. It is important to let them know their reactions to the trauma are normal and give them a safe place to express their feelings. PFA teaches tools for calming and problem solving as well as teaching caregivers to identify and deal with any changes in feelings or behavior.
Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR was originally developed in the late 90’s as a way to help the mind heal from traumatic events in much the same way the body heals wounds. It is believed that EMDR helps faciliate the mind in accessing traumatic memories and forming new associations with new memories and information. Essentially the mind cannot heal with there is an “emotional block” as might be created by a traumatic event. EMDR removes the block so the mind can heal.
How Can You Help?
- Repeatedly and compassionately assure them that they are safe. The traumatic event is over.
- Stick to your routines; they will need the security of the consistency.
- Be consistent in how you respond and interact with your teen. This communicates that you are managing your distress well and that everything is solid.
- Be sensitive to opportunities for your teen to talk about what happened and how they are feeling.
- Encourage varied expressions including painting, drawing, writing, music, or other hobbies your teen is interested in.
If you are worried about your teen or a teen in your life we are here to help you. There are resources for you and your teen, and they can live and thrive again. There is hope and we can help.