When Tragedy Hits Close to Home: Astroworld, Trauma, & PTSD
One of the greatest fears for any parent is to lose their child. The Astroworld tragedy in Houston, Texas claimed 8 lives ranging from 9 to 27. Our hearts ache and our thoughts and prayers go out to those families.
At this event where 50,000 people attended and in addition to the loss of life, there were some 300 people treated and another 25 people hospitalized. Those who were injured, the family members, or those who witnessed this tragedy, trauma may now be a real factor in their lives.
For teens and young adults who are experiencing many physical, emotional, and social changes or growth in their lives, it can be challenging to recognize the signs of trauma.
Is what we are seeing in our teen or young adult signs of trauma or is it simply a phase they are going through? They seem okay and tell me that they are fine but something has shifted that I can't put my finger on.
There are those who it will be clear and apparent that the traumatic event they experienced has caused emotional harm. To help teens, young adults, and parents differentiate between a developmental phase and possible trauma, we will dive into the symptoms of trauma and PTSD.
What is Trauma & PTSD
From the American Psychological Association, "PTSD, or posttraumatic stress disorder, is an anxiety problem that develops in some people after extremely traumatic events, such as combat, crime, an accident or natural disaster."
People with trauma or PTSD may relive the event via intrusive memories, flashbacks and nightmares; avoid anything that reminds them of the trauma; and have anxious feelings they didn’t have before that are so intense their lives are disrupted".
Trauma or PTSD occurs when a person experiences an overwhelming emotional event where the real or perceived threat of physical injury and/or death are present. This can include those who witnessed these events as well.
And from the Mayo Clinic, they list symptoms of trauma or PTSD that can include:
Symptoms of intrusive memories may include:
Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event
Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks)
Upsetting dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event
Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the traumatic event
Symptoms of avoidance may include:
Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
Avoiding places, activities or people that remind you of the traumatic event
Negative changes in thinking and mood
Negative Changes in Thinking & Mood
Symptoms of negative changes in thinking and mood may include:
Negative thoughts about yourself, other people or the world
Hopelessness about the future
Memory problems, including not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event
Difficulty maintaining close relationships
Feeling detached from family and friends
Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
Difficulty experiencing positive emotions
Feeling emotionally numb
Changes in physical and emotional reactions
Changes in Physical & Emotional Reactions
Symptoms of changes in physical and emotional reactions (also called arousal symptoms) may include:
Being easily startled or frightened
Always being on guard for danger
Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving too fast
Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior
Overwhelming guilt or shame
What Treatments Are There for Trauma & PTSD
When someone has experienced a traumatic event and is experiencing the symptoms listed above, the sooner they can get help the better the outcomes usually are. It can be challenging to know where to start.
Here we list suggestions and treatment approaches that have been shown to be effective in treating trauma.
Teen Counselors or Young Adult Therapists Who Specialize in Trauma Therapy or PTSD Treatment for Teens & Young Adults
Trauma therapy and PTSD treatment for teens and young adults takes a unique skill set. While there is overlap in how to treat teens and young adults with trauma compared to adults who have experienced trauma, there are subtle differences as well.
It's important to search out a therapist who not only specializes in trauma therapy or PTSD treatment, but also specializes in working with teens and young adults.
The first step may be to go to psychologytoday.com and research trauma therapists and PTSD counselors. The vast majority of therapists in any given area likely have a profile on psychologytoday.com.
On this website, you can filter for gender of therapists, problem to be addressed (trauma or PTSD), and type of treatment. There are a variety of effective treatments for trauma and PTSD and below are a few of those:
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR for trauma and EMDR for PTSD has been around for some time. It was developed in the 1980's by Dr. Francine Shapiro. EMDR for trauma and EMDR for PTSD have been researched, studied, and has shown to be effective.
Often, EMDR takes less time to resolve traumatic experiences than traditional talk therapy. That does not mean that traditional talk therapy shouldn't be an option.
While EMDR is effective for most people, it may not be a match for you. When speaking with a teen counselor or young adult therapist, they can help direct you on whether EMDR for trauma or EMDR for PTSD would be a good match for you.
EMDR has also been found to be effective for treating other anxiety disorders. EMDR for anxiety is an option when seeking therapy for anxiety, social anxiety, or panic attacks.
Neurofeedback counseling has been around for the past 50 years. It has only recently started gaining notice the past 10 years due to the advancements in neuroscience and brain imaging.
Neurofeedback for PTSD or trauma is different than EMDR or traditional talk therapy. EMDR records the brains performance and compares the results to a normative database. This normative database includes results of other teens or young adults the same age and gender who have not experienced trauma or PTSD.
Once we obtain the results of your brain's performance, we create a brain map that can pinpoint areas in the brain that are either over performing or under performing. From this brain map, we create a training protocol to help train the brain to perform without symptoms of trauma or PTSD.
Neurofeedback trains the brain by operant conditioning. The teen or young adult wears a cap similar to a swimmers cap. This cap has 19 sensors that provides real time data on the brain's performance.
We can use a video game or a movie/show for the training vehicle. When the brain is performing without the symptoms of trauma or PTSD, the teen or young adult is able to control the avatar in the video game.
If they are watching a movie or show, when the brain is performing without symptoms of trauma or PTSD, they can see and hear the movie or show. When the brain returns to performing with symptoms of trauma or PTSD, the screen and sound may fade.
This process, over an average of 40 sessions, can train the brain to perform without symptoms of trauma or PTSD.
Trauma Focused - Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)
From childwelfare.gov, TF-CBT is an evidence based treatment approach to help children, adolescents, and their parents overcome trauma related difficulties. TF-CBT has also been shown to be effective with young adults.
TF-CBT is designed to reduce negative emotional and behavioral responses following a traumatic incident. TF-CBT focuses on distorted or upsetting beliefs and how they relate to the traumatic event experienced.
TF-CBT is an effective therapy for trauma and a go to for PTSD counseling for many children, teens, and young adults alike.
Don't Wait, Get Help Today
There are other effective PTSD therapy approaches and trauma therapy models that can be very helpful. We provided 3 trauma therapy and PTSD treatment approaches that we have found to be effective.
You may be a teen or young adult who was impacted by being personally involved or witnessed the tragedy at Astroworld in Houston, Texas. Or, you may have your own trauma history that has created the symptoms listed above.
If you are a teen or young adult who is experiencing symptoms of trauma or PTSD, don't wait. Take that next step and reach out to counselors specializing in trauma. Counseling for PTSD or trauma can work. The sooner you get started the better outcomes you generally have.
You can and deserve to live a life free of the impacts and effects of trauma or PTSD!
Katy Teen & Family Counseling: Counselors Specializing in Trauma in Katy, Tx & Houston
At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we specialize in trauma therapy and PTSD treatment for teen therapy and young adult counseling. We utilize those approaches supported by research and shown to work. Approaches like:
Trauma Focused - Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Trauma & PTSD
If you have experienced a traumatic event in your life and are ready to start to put the effects of trauma behind you, all you need to do is follow these three simple steps:
Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling
Speak with one of our caring therapists
It may feel overwhelming now but therapy can help. Start your healing journey today.
Other Therapy and Counseling Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling
At our Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we use therapy and counseling approaches that are supported by research. These approaches have been shown to work in the shortest amount of time.
In addition to teen therapy, family therapy, and counseling for young adults, we also offer the following therapy and counseling services:
Board Certified Neurofeedback Therapy
Peak performance (optimal academic brain performance)
Peak performance (optimal athletic brain performance)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
We also provide couples counseling and marriage therapy as, sometimes, parenting a struggling teen can create relationship strain. A stronger relationship between the parents creates stronger family relationships and greater chances for teen success.
Parenting counseling for teen success
Parent counseling for support managing blended families with teens
Co-parenting counseling for divorced parents for teen success
Couples counseling for communication improvement
Marriage counseling to improve trust in the relationship
Couples therapy to address infidelity and unfaithfulness
About the Author
Jason Drake is a Licensed Clinical Worker. He specializes in teen therapy, family counseling, and counseling young adults.
He has provided therapy to teens, young adults, and families since 2003.