Which Type of Trauma Therapy is Right for Me?

Which Type of Trauma Therapy is Right for Me?

Looking for the right therapist to help heal your trauma can be extremely daunting. 

Especially when it comes to all of the different modalities (read types), it can feel downright overwhelming.

Yet, finding the right approach is critical to ensuring the effectiveness of your treatment.

So what are some well-known trauma therapies and which one is right for you? 

Read more below to find out!

Available Trauma & PTSD Counselors in Colorado Springs


1. Eye-Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR)

This may be one of the more popular trauma therapy approaches. 

Francine Shapiro developed this modality in 1987 after recognizing her own increased ability to process traumatic memories while moving her eyes back and forth. 

EMDR uses this idea, called bilateral stimulation, or the activation of both sides of our brain separately, to help process the impact of difficult life experiences. 

How It Helps:

EMDR targets painful memories and emotional experiences through the use of bilateral stimulation.

It is believed that this method unblocks the neural networks (I.e. thinking patterns) that allow us to naturally heal ourselves and therefore resolve these distressing memories.

What Does a Session Look Like:

EMDR is different than how one may picture therapy to be (you know, laying on a couch and talking about the relationship with your parents).

Instead, minimal talking occurs in session because processing happens through the use of eye movements.

Your therapist will check in on you every once in a while and will pause processing if you need help.

However, the majority of the work comes from your mind healing itself.

Who Is This Good For?:

This type of trauma therapy may be good for people who have tried talk therapy with little success.

This approach may also be good for individuals who experience chronic pain or have distressing visual memories due to a traumatic event.

2. Internal Family Systems (IFS)

Ever seen the popular children's movie Inside Out?

Well, turns out, that movie was based on the theoretical model of Internal Family Systems.

The developer, Richard Schwartz, believes that we all have different parts of ourselves, and just like in the movie, depending on which part is in the driver's seat, our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors may change.

How It Helps:

Many times, these different parts of self hold harmful and incorrect beliefs about ourselves (ex. "I am no good").

This approach helps us to get to know these parts and unlock us from these beliefs.

When we do so, we begin to feel more emotionally regulated and start to have more self-compassion (ex. "I am doing the best I can").

What Does a Session Look Like:

During most sessions, your therapist will help you target a part of yourself to process.

Processing can come from engaging in visualizations, internal dialogues, or even through artwork. 

Who Is This Good For?:

This approach may be good for people who process things visually (ex. artists, filmmakers, etc).

It may also be good for people who have experienced more than one traumatic event. 

3. Dialectal Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

DBT is a cognitive trauma therapy that works on the basis of dialectics or integrating opposites.

Marsha Linehan developed this modality to help manage her own difficult emotions.

Its focus on working with extreme emotional experiences and changing negative thinking patterns is facilitated by using the four main facets: emotional regulation skills, mindfulness, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness.

How It Helps:

For those with extreme emotions, it can feel you are being hijacked by what DBT calls the "emotional mind".

Through very specific and repetitive skills, DBT helps clients access their "wise mind", which allows them to think more rationally, make better decisions, and reduce harm.

What Does a Session Look Like:

DBT is an extremely regimented modality that typically requires one individual session, one group session, and individual phone coaching from their DBT therapist once a week.

Sessions focus strictly on the four main facets of DBT to build tolerance, acceptance, and skills.

Who Is This Good For?:

DBT is great for people who struggle with intense emotions.

These emotional experiences can result in self-harm, suicidality, or volatile relationships. 

4. Somatic-Based Interventions

There are a number of somatic-based interventions such as Sensorimotor, Somatic Experiencing, Brainspotting, and more.

These interventions work with the mind-body connection to heal trauma using a "bottom-up" approach (I.e. healing through the body).

How It Helps:

As renowned trauma researcher Bessel Van Der Kolk put it, "The Body Keeps the Score".

This means that we can hold traumatic memories in our bodies (ex. Chronic tension/pain in the area of the traumatic incident).

Somatic-based therapies work to release the traumatic memories and therefore allow the body (and subsequently the mind) to heal.

What Does a Session Look Like:

While it depends on the modality, typically a session will focus on a distressing or uncomfortable bodily sensation.

Your therapist will guide you in processing and resolving these bodily experiences.

Who Is This Good For?:

These approaches are great for those who experienced early childhood trauma or preverbal trauma.

They can also be helpful for those who don't have any conscious memories of the traumatic events.


When looking to heal from trauma, it is important to find the therapist and trauma therapy that is the best fit for you.

These approaches are some of many that can help treat traumatic stress symptoms

If any of these seem like a good fit for you, reach out to a therapist who practices trauma therapy today!



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March 27th, 2023