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Trauma-Informed Therapy

Trauma-informed therapy is a specific approach to therapy that recognizes and emphasizes understanding how the traumatic experience(s) can impact an individual’s mental, behavioural, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. This approach to therapy is rooted in understanding the connection between trauma and an individual’s experiences.


For some, they have experienced a traumatic incident(s), or capital “T” trauma. For others, the exposure to trauma has been chronic and throughout their lifetime. Ultimately, trauma is the result of an event or events that overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope and integrate ideas and thoughts about the experience. The impact of trauma can be subtle, hidden, or destructive. Research shows that some signs and symptoms associated with trauma-induced stress include sleep disturbance, emotional instability, and impaired cognition. When we are overwhelmed or our trauma is triggered through present day life, we often try to protect ourselves through avoidance and dissociation (Shallcross, 2010). Trauma-informed therapy aims to equip us with other tools to cope.


Dr. Van der Kolk, who is the preeminent neuroscientist in trauma research, describes trauma as the cause of many health issues (2014). Incredibly enough, our brain’s adaptive response to stress leads to action that, evolutionarily, helped us to survive in the moment but in actuality can hinder our well being. This supports Francine Shapiro’s Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) theory of EMDR therapy; the brain moves towards health just like the rest of the body - unless blocked or hindered. Individuals that have experienced trauma can get stuck in powerlessness. Our brains are geared toward survival.



Shallcross, L. (2010, April 15). Treating trauma. Counseling Today. Retrieved from:

Van der Kolk, B. A. (2014). The body keeps the score: Brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma. New York: Viking.

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