How Trauma-Informed Therapy Helps During PA Rehab

The primary difference between trauma-informed therapy and conventional therapy lies in its approach. In other words, trauma-informed therapy asks “What happened to you?” instead of asking what is wrong with you. The approach that trauma-informed therapy takes has the effect of shifting the “blame” from the trauma victim to recognizing the person as being a survivor. There are numerous ways in which trauma-informed therapy helps during PA rehab, including learning about the trauma itself, decreasing traumatic stress symptoms, developing healthy coping skills, etc. This is why many Pennsylvania substance abuse treatment programs incorporate trauma-informed therapy. In this article, we are going to explain what trauma-informed therapy is, exactly, show its benefits, and provide you with an easy way to access the therapy.

What is trauma-informed therapy?

Trauma-informed therapy is not actually a therapy type on its own. Rather, it is a specific approach to recovery for traumatized individuals. Basically, it is a set of guiding principles that take the effects of the trauma into account. A trauma-informed therapist understands that the victims of trauma require compassionate and safe care. This may involve a variety of treatment modalities, incorporating cultural, historical, and gender factors.

The core concept of trauma-informed therapy is to establish a sense of trust and safety before everything else. Therefore, the first thing that a trauma-informed therapist will do is develop a supportive and collaborative relationship with their patient. Needless to say, this approach can be extremely effective even when working with people without any traumatic experiences and is a staple in many long term drug rehab Pennsylvania programs. The patient is empowered by the simple fact that their voice and their choices are being honored, allowing them to get exactly what they need and want from their therapy.

person talking about how trauma-informed therapy helps during PA rehab
Trauma-informed therapy ensures that the patient’s voice is always heard.

The definition of trauma-informed therapy

The actual definition of trauma-informed therapy, according to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) goes as follows:

Any trauma-informed program, organization, or system needs to do the following:

  1. Realize the widespread impact of trauma and understand the potential paths to recovery
  2. Recognize all of the signs and symptoms of trauma
  3. Respond to the trauma by integrating trauma knowledge into all the practices, procedures, and policies
  4. Seek to actively resist re-traumatization in patients.

From the definition, we can easily see that the focus of trauma-informed therapy is to recognize and understand the effects of trauma on individuals. Other goals include creating specific skills and strategies that can further this purpose, help cope with emotion/memory processing, and enable the individual to process their trauma and enable them to create a healthier way to live.

Key concepts of trauma-informed therapy

Aside from SAMHSA’s vague definition, trauma-informed therapy is not defined by any directories or national standards. However, most trauma-informed therapists follow the same key concepts. The five key concepts of trauma-informed therapy include:

  1. Safety
  2. Choice
  3. Collaboration
  4. Trustworthiness
  5. Empowerment

In general, every healthcare professional that is familiar with the trauma-informed approach will also be familiar with these concepts. They will also know how trauma-informed therapy helps during PA rehab. Furthermore, these concepts largely overlap with many other treatment modalities. For example, if you visit a cocaine addiction treatment center, you will notice that almost all of the core concepts of trauma-informed therapy apply there as well. The difference, however, lies in the fact that trauma-informed therapy places a huge emphasis on these concepts, as opposed to simply incorporating them into the treatment program.

kid wearing a helmet
Safety always comes first!

In order to be able to completely understand the trauma-informed approach, we need to take a closer look at the core principles behind it, starting with:


Safety is the most important concept of trauma-informed therapy. A trauma-informed therapist fully understands that safety begins at the front door and that privacy needs to be respected at all times. Furthermore, the trauma-informed approach is inherently welcoming to all people, due to its strong focus on the emotional and physical sense of safety.

In other words, trauma-informed therapy allows the patient to always have a clear understanding of what will happen next. This is due to the fact that most people who have survived a traumatic experience have some sort of fear of what comes next. Therefore, the first goal of trauma-informed therapy is to put the traumatized individual at ease. This approach can also be utilized in a variety of other treatments, such as benzo addiction treatment, for example. After all, providing the patients with a sense of safety and understanding should be the goal of any treatment approach.


The concept of choice in trauma-informed therapy means that the client will always have control of what happens during their treatment. In other words, no treatment can be administered without the client’s direct consent. Now, this is obviously not something that can be done with every single patient in every single situation. Even so, freedom of choice is extremely important. For the most part, trauma-informed prescription drug addiction rehab, for example, will require the patient’s continuous consent. While there might be situations in which this consent needs to be overruled, they are extremely few and far between.


Another way in which trauma-informed therapy helps during PA rehab is due to the fact that collaboration is one of its key concepts. While most therapy types focus on the fact that the therapist is the expert, trauma-informed therapy expects the therapist to “share the power” with the patient, and make informed decisions alongside them. What this means is that the individual seeking treatment is not passive when it comes to choosing the best treatment modality. Instead, they have a significant role to play when it comes to determining the best course of treatment. We can observe the importance of collaboration in many Pennsylvania opioid treatment programs, where both patients and therapists work together toward creating the best possible treatment experience.

two people discussing exactly how trauma-informed therapy helps during PA rehab
Trauma-informed therapy is one of collaboration.

In other words, trauma-informed therapy recognizes two experts when it comes to creating the best possible treatment approach; both the therapist and the patient.


Being honest, clear, and consistent is extremely important in any therapy. However, trauma-informed therapy places a significant focus on trustworthiness, maintaining boundaries, and never violating the trust of the patient. Due to how important this concept is, almost every treatment in Pennsylvania takes a page out of the trauma-informed treatment book. Whether you opt for an inpatient program or an IOP Pennsylvania program, you can be certain that trustworthiness is going to be high on their list of priorities. Of course, trauma-informed programs offer the highest degree of trustworthiness, as it is one of the core principles behind the approach.


Lastly, empowerment plays a huge role in trauma-informed therapy. Empowerment means that the patients always need to feel that they are well-cared for, heard, and validated by their medical professionals and the supporting staff. This allows the patients to focus on building coping skills and learning to regulate their emotions in the best possible way.

It is also important to note that all these principles need to take cultural, gender, and historical issues into account. For most patients, their trauma is only one thing that increases the treatment’s difficulty. More often than not, trauma victims feel that society marginalizes or otherwise wounds them in some manner. Therefore, the best treatment needs to address those issues.

Furthermore, this particular treatment approach emphasizes the importance of dual diagnosis. Most of the time, victims of trauma will have one or more problems that may interfere with their treatment. This is why most of them choose to undergo their treatment in one of the dual diagnosis treatment centers Pennsylvania has to offer. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how exactly you can benefit from this approach while in rehab.

How trauma-informed therapy helps during PA rehab?

There are many benefits of the trauma-informed therapy approach. By undergoing this particular treatment modality, you will be able to:

  • Learn about trauma
  • Identify triggers
  • Decrease traumatic stress symptoms
  • Practice trauma processing or integration
  • Develop healthy coping skills
  • Re-establish safety
wooden blocks spelling the word "learn"
Trauma-informed therapy places a large focus on learning.

Do note that this approach integrates itself easily with other treatment modalities. For example, every CBT treatment plan for substance abuse can benefit from every single key concept. This is true whether the patient is a victim of trauma or not. With that in mind, let’s take a look at exactly how trauma-informed therapy helps during PA rehab.

Learning about trauma

Most people do not fully understand how trauma may impact their lives. They may understand that it is making it more difficult, but not how, exactly. What trauma-informed treatment does is provide a space for individuals to learn how trauma influences their lives. By undergoing the treatment, you will be able to understand why certain feelings and thoughts, as well as behaviors, might occur. Furthermore, the therapy provides the patient with clear names and explanations of their experiences.

This is, perhaps, the greatest benefit of the approach. By knowing that your problems are widely known and that there is a way to cure them, you can become more comfortable with yourself. Most trauma victims feel alone in their suffering, thinking that they are somehow to blame. By proving that they are not and that there is a way out, trauma-informed therapy allows the patients to fully focus on their recovery efforts.

Aside from being more comfortable, this approach can also identify the best course of treatment. For example, understanding the person’s trauma fully may suggest that music therapy for substance abuse is the answer. Everyone is different, after all, and the best way to create a suitable treatment plan is to fully understand them first.

Trigger identification

Many trauma victims exhibit reactions that seemingly come out of nowhere. This can be extremely challenging to deal with, as the person can never know how they will react. However, by undergoing trauma-informed therapy, the patients will learn how to identify, understand, and explore all of the feelings and memories that are associated with the trauma. It will also allow them to express their feelings in a much easier way. Most importantly, though, this approach will allow the patients to fully understand what triggers their responses. That knowledge will help them create a more appropriate response or adapt their reactions.

person looking through a magnifying glass
Trigger identification is a large part of the therapy process.

Trauma-informed therapy helps during PA rehab by decreasing traumatic stress symptoms

Throughout the course of trauma-informed therapy, the patient will learn how to decrease their traumatic stress symptoms, as well as any other mental health symptoms that might be connected to the trauma itself. Furthermore, the approach will slowly decrease numerous trauma side-effects such as feelings of shame, guilt, anxiety, dissociation, etc. Lastly, this therapy approach will considerably help reduce nightmares and/or flashbacks. Due to the fact that there is virtually no downside to this approach, it is usually best to undergo rehab in a Scranton rehab center that fully embraces the core principles behind the therapy, such as Little Creek Recovery.

You will be able to practice trauma processing and/or integration

Since empowerment is one of the key concepts of the therapy, it will allow you to regain power and control over your past experiences. Over time, you will have the opportunity to process and organize your unique experiences into your everyday life. Furthermore, the therapy will help you make meaning of all the trauma events and how they relate to your view of yourself and the world around you.

Basically, this therapy type will allow you to process your trauma into something constructive. It may not happen immediately, as trauma can be quite hard to deal with. Over time, however, you will learn how to take control of your life again.

Trauma-informed therapy helps develop healthy coping skills

Overcoming the effects of the trauma can be a very long process. During that time, it is extremely important to develop healthy coping skills. By undertaking trauma therapy, you will be able to learn about anxiety management, relaxation strategies, and many other useful skills. By developing these skills, you will build resiliency as well. Furthermore, the therapy might help you discover many other skills and coping strategies that you might find extremely useful. By incorporating these skills into your skillset, you will be able to better respond to trauma reminders and emotions.

word "skills" on a blackboard
You will be able to learn and polish your coping skills.

Due to how important coping skills are, almost every treatment program tries to help their patients develop them. For example, even if you enroll in a drug rehab Wilkes Barre PA program, you can expect that it will teach you at least some coping skills. However, the difference between “standard” treatment programs and trauma-informed therapy programs is that the latter places a much greater emphasis on developing healthy coping skills.

You can re-establish safety through trauma-informed therapy

Practically every traumatic experience results in a violation of your sense of safety. This does not only include physical violations, but emotional, psychological, and relational violations as well. Therefore, it is critical that your treatment needs to help you re-establish safety. The way in which trauma-informed therapy helps during PA rehab is that it deals with safety issues through various activities and discussions that specifically target these domains. In other words, by undergoing therapy, you will learn to feel safe again. This usually happens in the initial stages, as safety is paramount for further treatment.

Who is trauma-informed therapy for, and why is it so important?

Everyone can benefit from trauma-informed therapy. This therapy approach is suitable regardless of your personal history or other circumstances. This is due to the fact that this approach looks at the patient as they are. In other words, this therapy will allow you to recognize and understand your traumatic experiences and take an active role in solving them. The difference between this approach and other treatment modalities is that trauma-informed treatment usually starts slowly. It takes time to build trust and relationships, after all.

the word "slow" on concrete
Trauma-informed therapy usually starts quite slowly.

Therefore, trauma-informed therapy might be the best approach for people who don’t like to be “bombarded” with questions from the get-go. While your therapist will ask you quite a few questions, the therapy will proceed at your own pace. This is inherently different from many other treatment modalities. In conventional therapy, it is quite common for therapists to want to know about every detail of someone’s life. While this may be a good approach in many cases, trauma victims require a more slow and personal approach.

The reason why trauma-informed therapy is so important is due to the fact that traumas are extremely complicated. More often than not, traumas occur in the context of relationships. Therefore, any judgment and/or repulsion can significantly hinder your recovery. The best way to heal is when you are feeling safe and validated, after all. While every therapist will have some basic relationship skills, trauma-informed therapists are true experts in the field. They possess special training and have extensive experience working with trauma victims.

How to know whether my therapist is trauma-informed?

The difference between a regular therapist and a trauma-informed therapist can be quite subtle, especially for someone who has never been to therapy. The best way to figure out whether your therapist has extensive trauma experience is to ask them a couple of questions, such as:

  • What trauma training do you have?
  • How do you approach trauma in your sessions?
  • What will you do to make me feel safe?
  • Are there any specific trauma-related scenarios that you have treated?

When asking these questions, pay close attention to how your therapist answers them. If they show any signs of annoyance, they might not be a good fit for you. A good therapist needs to understand why you are asking these questions. Furthermore, you can tell quite a bit from the way your therapist answers the questions. If you are not feeling any curiosity or compassion from your therapist, you might want to search for another one.

two people in a therapy session
It is very important to “click” with your therapist from the get-go.

Some therapists might also have some trauma training, but not enough. While it is practically impossible to figure out the extent of their training, try to consider how they make you feel. A great trauma therapist will command a sense of safety and comfort. They will make you feel welcome, important, and safe. Furthermore, you will most likely develop a good relationship from the get-go. If anything seems “off”, it is usually in your best interest to search for another therapist. It is possible to raise your concerns and have your therapist address them, of course, but it is usually better to find someone with whom you will “click” from the start.

Trauma-informed therapy at Little Creek Recovery

At Little Creek Recovery, we believe that treatment always needs to involve. This is why we are one of the first treatment centers in Pennsylvania to adopt a trauma-informed approach. Furthermore, we highly specialize in treating young adult men, as we believe that mixing sexes in extended care is counter-productive. It is hard enough as it is, to be honest. Our treatment options are all based on the comfort and happiness of our patients. We do not condone containment in treatment, as we believe that is a horrible experience for young adult males, traumatized or not.

Our treatment approach integrates trauma-informed care into every single program that we offer, from our Twelve-Step Adventure Trek program to our music programs. Furthermore, we offer a range of treatment options such as inpatient care, outpatient care, intensive outpatient programs, family programs, sober living, recreational therapy, etc. No matter what your treatment needs are, you can be certain that you can fulfill them at Little Creek Recovery!

At Little Creek, we believe that real recovery from trauma, drug, and alcohol addiction simply cannot take place unless we look beyond the pointing finger. We fully understand how trauma-informed therapy helps during PA rehab and that each person is unique and requires a specific approach. Something different happens to each and every one of us, after all, and recovery can be triggered by virtually anything; a sound, a sight, a vision.

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