Common Approaches to Trauma Therapy

Eating disorders are complex psychiatric conditions that, when left untreated, can have life-threatening consequences. For a patient to fully recover, the treatment should address a myriad of underlying issues. No single aspect has been determined to cause eating disorders. But a few elements increase your odds of having it. The most common of these include your environment, genetics, a family history of an eating disorder, and trauma.

Researchers have found that over 75% of patients enrolled in centers that provide treatment for bulimia in Westport, CT has experienced some form of trauma. The common types of traumatic experiences include abuse, parental abandonment, domestic violence, and the death of a loved one. Any of these experiences induce intense emotional injuries that last for years after the event. One of the coping mechanisms people adopt is an eating disorder. At times, the traumatic event only triggers the appearance of symptoms in an individual otherwise prone to the disease.

That said, most eating disorder treatment centers now offer trauma therapy using one of the following methods:

Cognitive Processing Therapy

This is a 12-week treatment program comprising weekly sessions that last for about 60-90 minutes. In the initial stages, you will discuss the traumatic event and how it has affected your thoughts and actions. The therapist will then ask you to write down this event. The detailed narration of your event in writing will help you process and understand it in a new light. You will also choose the things that were not your fault and learn to cope with the event.

Prolonged Exposure Therapy

This takes place over 8-15 sessions that last for about an hour and a half. The treatment starts with a therapist helping you learn new exercises that will help you cope with emotions when remembering a traumatic event. The most common exercises are relaxing breathing techniques. Over time, a therapist will help you face your fears and learn how to cope with them rather than avoid them altogether.

Stress Inoculation Training

This is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Stress inoculation is primarily focused on changing the emotions you have developed from a traumatic event. You might get to learn breathing or massage techniques that will help you relax when remembering an event. Stress inoculation training will take about three months to equip you with all the skills you need to reduce the stress that comes with trauma.


After trauma, your brain will start processing threats differently. This is in part because your neurotransmitters are imbalanced, and the ‘’flight or fight’’ they are meant to trigger will make you jumpy. Medications can be used to generate a balance of your neurotransmitters. The common FDA-approved drugs used in this case include sertraline, paroxetine, fluoxetine, and venlafaxine. Benzodiazepines, beta-blockers, and anti-depressants are also used off-label for trauma therapy.

In the past, eating disorders were considered in isolation. Nowadays, however, the above approaches are a regular part of the treatment process. With them, the odds of your treatment’s efficacy are increased and the risk of a relapse is almost eliminated.

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