Have You Considered a Career as a Trauma Therapist?
A trauma therapist treats patients who experience and survive a traumatic incident. Examples of trauma include physical, emotional or sexual assault or abuse, accidents, natural disasters, and wars.
Training to become a trauma therapist includes learning about treatments that are proven to intervene with the effects of trauma. The emphasis is on minimizing the onset of stress disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or acute stress disorder (ASD), that can interfere with daily life.
Starting a career as a trauma therapist involves earning a graduate degree in psychology and gaining experience treating trauma survivors. You also must remain current with the latest training in trauma therapy.
Learn more about becoming a trauma therapist and whether this career may be right for you.
Becoming a trauma therapist requires a bachelor’s degree in clinical psychology with a specialization in trauma training. Then, you must earn a master’s or doctorate degree in the type of therapy you want to practice.
For instance, if you want to become an art therapist, you should earn a master’s degree from an accredited art therapy program. Or, if you want to become a child therapist, you should earn a master’s degree in child or developmental psychology.
Working as a trauma therapist involves analyzing, understanding, and processing the patient’s trauma to assess and treat them. Your goal is to guide your patient to process their trauma in a safe, controlled environment.
Since there are different types of trauma, the treatment options vary based on the patient. For instance, if you treat a child, you might use sand play therapy. Or, if you treat a veteran, you might use eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).
Consistent exposure to trauma requires upholding strong boundaries with your patients to avoid absorbing their stress. Maintaining boundaries lets you more effectively help your patients navigate their emotions.
Failure to maintain strong boundaries can result in the following:
- Indirect, vicarious, or secondary trauma: You can accumulate your patients’ trauma-related experiences and emotions. The result may be trauma-related symptoms such as nightmares or extreme changes in appetite, weight, or mood.
- Compassion fatigue: You can gradually lose empathetic emotions or experience numbness from the consistent strain of dealing with trauma.
- Burnout: You can experience physical and mental health issues that impact your work.
Are You Ready to Work as a Trauma Therapist?