Five Ways to Help Teens Overcome Trauma


The National Center of PTSD recently released a study that indicated upwards of 43% of young adults have experienced at least one traumatic event in their lives. Trauma can occur in a number of ways and have a multitude of different effects on our teens. As parents, understanding how to support your child through these challenges is vital. In this blog, we'll explore five treatment modalities designed to help overcome teen trauma, providing you with insights into fostering a lifetime of healthy coping.


Understanding Trauma

Trauma can occur in a variety of ways and comes in a number of forms. It is not an objective experience. When most people think of trauma they think someone experiencing war, combat, natural disasters, physical or sexual abuse, terrorism, and catastrophic accidents. These are all examples of big “T” trauma. Society grants a modicum of respect to those who have experienced big “T” traumas. The other form of trauma is little “T” which results from “...​​events that exceed our capacity to cope and cause a disruption in emotional functioning.” This can be anything like a divorce, relocation, financial difficulty, legal struggles, etc. Most people overlook small “T” traumas; even those that experience them. However they can be just as debilitating over time as a large trauma. Chronic small traumatic experiences can have the same end result as one large acute traumatic event. 


Thankfully, both are treatable! 


Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Unlocking Thought Patterns

CBT works to realign your teens' thoughts and emotions. If they are experiencing negative thought patterns that stem from a trauma, CBT helps them recognize those patterns and push back against them. Thought distortions such as “...overgeneralizing bad outcomes, negative thinking that diminishes positive thinking, and always expecting catastrophic outcomes…” are replaced with healthier, more balanced, and effective thinking.  As a parent, being aware of CBT's role can empower you to engage in open conversations with your adolescent.

Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR): Visualizing Healing


EMDR is a powerful therapeutic tool for trauma and PTSD. It uses bilateral stimulation and relies on the adaptive information processing model of memory storage. The bilateral stimulation activates both hemispheres of the brain while processing traumatic memories. It works by talking through a negative experience and using one side of the brain to heal the other side. It offers a unique approach to reducing emotional distress and reframing traumatic experiences.  

Expressive Arts Therapy: Tapping Into Creativity

Sometimes it’s difficult for teenagers to express their emotions verbally. Expressive arts therapy encourages your adolescent to use art as a means of communication. Drawing, painting, music, drama, whatever their outlet is, embrace it! Trauma can create difficult emotions and thoughts to process and handle. By providing an alternative route of expression, art therapy can allow that which is stuck inside to come out.

Mindfulness & Meditation: Cultivating Present-Moment Awareness

Practicing mindfulness and meditation with unprocessed trauma can be difficult. Sitting still with your thoughts is uncomfortable, especially when your teenager may feel like their thoughts are completely out of their control. That's where the practice of mindfulness can be a lifeline. These techniques teach your child to focus on the present moment, offering a toolkit for managing stress and anxiety. It gives them the ability to control their thoughts instead of feeling held captive by them. 

Trauma-Informed Yoga: Building Body-Mind Connection

Trauma-informed yoga is not just about physical postures but about reconnecting with one's body in a safe and empowering way. We hold stress in various places within our physical bodies. Yoga can help your teen identify these places and move to release them. This modality can help them build resilience, release tension, and develop a positive relationship with their own bodies.

Additional Resources

Trauma is not something to be taken lightly. Nor should treating trauma be something that is entered into without understanding the full scope. Trauma treatment should always be done by specialists. Healing from trauma takes time and requires a controlled, safe environment. It is highly recommended to contact behavioral health specialists such as Sustain Recovery. 

Our clinical staff is versed in trauma-informed care and are here to answer any questions, provide resources, and help you to cultivate a personalized treatment plan for your loved one. Call us today.