Being a therapist in a group practice devoted to solely providing teen counseling and family therapy, we see a wide variety of teen struggles. One of the more profound struggles teens experience is teen trauma or teen Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Teen Trauma & Teen PTSD Overview
Teen trauma can come in many different forms and from many different sources. There are trauma events that would be categorized as "Big T" trauma. There are also traumatic events that could be categorized as "little t" trauma.
PTSD is a result of Big T trauma experiences. These are events that a teen experiences that caused them to fear for their life of the life of another. A teen can have teen PTSD and doesn't need to have experienced the event personally. If they saw a similar event, this can cause teen PTSD.
There are life events, stressors, and traumatic experiences that would be considered "little t" trauma. Little t trauma can have just as significant an impact on a teen's life as Big T trauma. Little t trauma can result in significant impact to a teens normal daily functioning.
Also, little t trauma can be one of the more difficult teen struggles for parents to recognize. It's not uncommon for parents to request family counseling and for the underlying struggle to be related to a trauma the teen experienced outside the home. It's difficult for parents to know that trauma occurred when it's near impossible for the teen to talk about it. Family therapy can be a good starting point.
Little t Trauma is insidious and wants to be kept secret. Teens often compare their experience to the more serious traumatic events. Because in their minds they believe the event(s) "shouldn't" be a big deal, teens often feel shame and embarrassment around the little t traumatic event(s). As a result, they tend to keep the trauma secret, many times, hoping it will just get better and go away. It does not. Teen trauma kept secret starts to eat away at the teen's sense of self:
Love for self
This further solidifies the teens resolve to not talk about these traumatic events. Some teens will open up in family counseling. Some request to have teen therapy first before they are able to talk about it in family therapy. As discussed below, we believe that family counseling can be a strong approach at the end of trauma therapy and PTSD treatment.
Sooner is Better in Teen Trauma Therapy, PTSD Treatment, & Family Counseling
In teen trauma therapy and PTSD treatment, it is important to start therapy as soon as possible. Teens who are able to start teen trauma therapy or PTSD treatment shortly after the event(s) occurred, tend to take less time in therapy and tend to have better outcomes.
Teens who have experienced the traumatic even(s) for a longer period of time before they start teen trauma therapy or PTSD treatment, tend to take longer in therapy. This is the case when parents request family counseling. The longer trauma eats away at the teen's self, the more challenging it becomes to be themselves. They begin to display uncharacteristic behavior that causes the parents concern.
Because teen trauma creates a lot of shame and embarrassment, we tend to see teens who have experienced the trauma for some time before they receive trauma therapy or PTSD treatment.
The good news is, there are several, research supported trauma therapy and PTSD approaches that have been proven to be effective. We also understand that our role is to create a safe and nurturing environment where teens can work on their trauma. Near the end of trauma therapy or PTSD treatment, we begin to discuss the role that family therapy can play in helping the teen maintain long term success. Family counseling can help create a safe, nurturing, educated environment after therapy has ended.
Creating a Safe Place for Teen Trauma Therapy & PTSD Treatment Approaches
In order for our approaches to be effective, we must first create the right conditions for them to be effective.
Our teen trauma therapy & PTSD counselor also understands the sensitive nature of trauma. We do not push. We let the teens know up front that while we may be in charge of the process, they are in charge of the progress.
If there are any questions asked that cause them to feel overwhelmed, they can choose not to answer the question. We want our teens to experience a warm, nurturing, supportive environment where they are in control. We partner with the teen and parents and walk side by side with them through this journey.
To the teens, you have more power and strength within you than you can ever imagine! Trauma tries to fool you and tells you that you are weak and powerless. You are not. Teens tap into their inner strength and overcome the effects of trauma and we can help.
Our teen trauma therapy & teen PTSD treatment approaches are effective for both Big T trauma and little t trauma. Our teen trauma therapy and PTSD treatment approaches have helped teens across the spectrum of trauma experiences.
We have had teens search for therapists themselves and ask their parents to take them to therapy. We have had teens brought by their parents who feel hopeless -- that nothing will help. For those who show up, engage, participate, and are willing to step outside their comfort zone, these approaches have been effective.
It's important to create this environment in the therapy space where the teen will participate in teen counseling. As mentioned previously and below, family therapy at the end of treatment can mirror a similar environment in the home after teen therapy has ended.
Below are the trauma therapy and PTSD treatment approaches utilized at Katy Teen & Family Counseling.
1. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR is one of the top, research supported approaches in trauma therapy & PTSD treatment. EMDR has been used to treat veterans returning from combat. It has been used for survivors of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. And, EMDR is just as effective in treating small t trauma as it is in treatment the above Big T trauma experiences.
EMDR is a trauma therapy and PTSD treatment approaches that uses bi-lateral stimulations as the vehicle to process trauma. An example of bi-lateral stimulation is Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep.
What is REM Sleep & What Does It Have to do With Trauma Therapy & PTSD Treatment?
During REM sleep, our eyes are moving rapidly side to side. Our brain uses this eye movement to process the information from the day, consolidate learning, and sort short and long term memories. In other words, the bi-lateral movement of our eyes is helping our brain process information.
With teen trauma, the traumatic information gets 'stuck'. The brain doesn't process and resolve this information due to the intensity of the information. If the brain perceives the traumatic information as being life threatening or poses a risk to overwhelm the system, it holds onto this information to protect the person.
What the brain doesn't understand is that the person is not in danger. The fear center part of the brain that holds onto this information doesn't think logically, analytically, or rationally, its job is to warn us of danger.
EMDR is the Gear Shifter That Shift that Helps the Brain Process Trauma
EMDR uses the brains natural mechanism in processing information. EMDR uses this in a purposeful way with a trained EMDR therapist guiding the process.
The bi-lateral stimulation that we use in EMDR is eye movements or hand tappers (hand paddles that alternatingly vibrate). With a trained EMDR therapist guiding the process and the teen guiding the process, together we process the traumatic event into an adaptive, or healthy, neural network.
A common theme with those who have participated in EMDR for trauma therapy and PTSD treatment is that they feel the emotions behind the event just dissolved away. Over time, their brain processed the previously unprocessed material and they are no longer bothered by the event.
Neurofeedback has been around for more than 50 years. It has started to gain more notice over the last 10 years with the advances in technology that has allowed us to learn more about the brain. MRI, fMRI, CT scans have helped significantly advance our understanding of the various regions of the brain.
With this understanding, we have a better understanding of emotional and behavioral struggles and where they originate in the brain. With this understanding, neurofeedback for trauma has been an approach that has helped many overcome the impact of trauma.
Neurofeedback for trauma therapy and PTSD treatment is a safe, non-intrusive, relaxing, and enjoyable form of trauma therapy and PTSD treatment. Neurofeedback is not talk therapy. Our neurofeedback professional uses sophisticated software that records how the brain performs.
We place a cap with 19 sensors on the teens head (like a swimmer’s cap). These sensors record the brain activity and identify the regions of the brain that are over performing or underperforming.
From this, we create a brain map of those regions of the brain that are under or over performing. We take this brain map and compare it to a comprehensive database of brain maps of a teens the same age and gender who has not experienced trauma.
We then develop a training program unique to the teen’s symptoms and brain performance. The training program utilizes software that performs much like a video game. But, this video game is controlled by the brain's performance.
When the teen's brain performs like a brain without the symptoms of trauma, the control the game. When the brain returns to it's former over or under performing in those brain regions, the teen cannot control the game.
With this training program, we are able to teach the brain to regulate the areas or over or under performance. As we do this, they symptoms that have been causing struggles in the teen's life significantly reduce or are eliminated.
Neurofeedback for trauma therapy and PTSD treatment can be a strong alternative for those who may not yet be ready to tackle the trauma in teen counseling or family therapy. We can achieve great results in diminishing the symptoms that accompany teen trauma and PTSD.
Neurofeedback for trauma therapy and PTSD treatment combined with teen counseling and/or family therapy can be a very powerful approach in treating trauma. Again, the family therapy would come toward the end of treatment based on the teen's comfort level.
3. Family Therapy
Family therapy with the parent(s) is not a part of the teen's treatment until further on into treatment. Once the teen has been able to work through much of the trauma they have experienced, is when we can start family therapy. Not all teens choose to take this route -- and that's okay. It's not a critical piece for the teen to participate in family counseling in their overall success in resolving their trauma.
Often, teens will not talk about their teen trauma experiences with their parents. Due to the shame, guilt, and embarrassment, they have not shared much of what they experienced.
By the way, the shame, guile, and embarrassment is undeserved. Yet, the region of the brain that causes trauma to be stuck assigns these feelings to the teen anyhow. It's not rational. It's not logical. But the region of the brain only feels, assigns feelings, and alerts the body to danger.
To end trauma therapy and PTSD treatment in family therapy provides a healing experience for the teen and their parents. This is not a time to recount the trauma experiences. The teen is able to share as much, as little, or no information about the trauma as they choose during family counseling.
The purpose of family therapy with the teen and their parents is to:
Help the teen connect in a meaningful way with their parents. Their parents will be able to offer support long after the therapist is no longer in the picture once teen counseling and family therapy has ended.
Help the parents gain closure and resolution to a traumatic period of time for them. Through the process of family therapy, the bonds between the parents and the teen are further strengthened.
For the trauma therapist to be able to provide education, skills, and tools for the family unit to further support the teen after teen counseling and family therapy has ended.
Begin Trauma Therapy & PTSD Treatment Today at Katy Teen & Family Counseling:
Providing Family Counseling & Teen Therapy for Teens & Families in Katy Tx & Houston
There is a wide range of traumatic experiences that can negatively impact a teen's life. An event that one teen experiences may not cause them trauma. The same event with another teen however can cause trauma in their life.
It is difficult to spot and identify sometimes. If you are concerned that your teen is struggling, Katy Teen & Family Counseling can help. We have a trained trauma therapy and PTSD counselor who is trained in those approaches that have been shown to work. If you are ready to start this journey in healing, all you need to do is follow three simple steps:
1. Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling
2. Speak with our trauma therapy and PTSD specialist
3. Start your healing journey and resolve the impacts of trauma so that you don't have to take this into your adult life. Now is the time.
Other Family Therapy and Teen Counseling Services Provided at Katy Teen & Family Counseling
At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we specialize in family counseling and teen therapy. We are committed in helping the teens and families in the Katy and Houston area become wildly successful. We can help by guiding you through the healing journey and remove the obstacles in your way. Below are some of the family therapy and teen counseling services we specialize in:
Teen Therapy for Self-harm
Teen Therapy for Self-esteem and Self-worth
Teen Anger Management Treatment
Don't wait to invest in your teens future. Our roots at Katy Teen & Family Counseling reach back as far as 2003. Jason Drake, LCSW-S, EMDR Trained, Neurofeedback Professional, has been providing teen counseling and family therapy since 2003. He is a specialist in family counseling and teen therapy. He hires those therapists who also specialize in working with teens.
How to Begin Teen Therapy or Family Counseling
To begin teen therapy or family counseling, simply contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling through our website or by calling 346-202-4662. Our Owner and Lead Clinician answers each phone call to help match you with the right therapist for you teen and family.
About the Author
Jason Drake is a Licensed Clinical Worker. He is a Specialist in Teen Therapy & Family Counseling. He has provided therapy to teens and families since 2003. Through his expertise, he helps teens who struggle with depression, anxiety, trauma, ADHD/ADD, and PTSD. He works with talented teen athletes who have experience mental blocks. Gifted students have unique challenges that Jason understands well. Jason uses CBT, EMDR, Neurofeedback, FFT, and Motivational Interviewing. We only work with teens and families which allows us to focus on what teens and families of today need. Resolving the struggles of today can assure a more successful tomorrow. Proudly serving Katy, Tx and Houston.