The History of Trauma Treatment

A Need for Trauma Treatment

image of psychologist providing trauma treatment to a womanSymptoms of traumatic stress began with military populations after the Civil War, known then as soldier’s heart. After the advent of heavy explosives in World War I, the term shell shock became well known. Medical perspectives toward trauma remained that if a person suffered shell shock, and because severe symptoms were not seen in every soldier, shell shock implied there may be a flaw in the soldier’s character. He just couldn’t hack it like another soldier could.

Near the onset of WW2, recruits were screened to identify signs of moral weakness, assuming some men would be more likely to suffer battle fatigue. This effort was motivated by a shortage of funding, and it was announced that no pensions would be awarded for psychiatric war injuries, or trauma. In battle, when wounded or stressed, soldiers were retained, suffering from exhaustion, to rest before returning to battle. Clinicians at the Veterans Administration developed group therapy for traumatic stress. As the soldiers shared, they found healing, validation, and reintegration through group identification.

Initial Approaches to Trauma Treatment

Initial approaches to trauma treatment focused on interventions specific to individuals, the goals to relieve symptoms and return the patient to self-sufficiency, self-care, and social function. In the 1950’s, the world experienced a pharmacological revolution, and psychiatrists employed a new generation of drugs to treat trauma symptoms. In the 1970’s, therapists working with veterans, Holocaust survivors, and civilians who suffered domestic or other traumas integrated psycho-social education, which offered tools for self-healing, motivating individual progress. The educational aspect complimented clinical therapies and added a social context beyond group therapy. In the 1980’s, psychiatric and societal perspectives of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder shifted. In 1987, psychologist Francine Shapiro began development of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), a breakthrough in trauma treatment that is widely used today. In the 1990’s, technological advances in neuro-imaging showed changes in the brain brought on by trauma, bringing greater understanding of the neurological, biological, psychological and social effects of trauma, thereby further refining medical, psychological, and pharmacological approaches to treatment.

Recently, trauma-informed care has opened up individual and group therapy approaches, changing the focus of therapy from what is wrong with her as a patient to seeing her as a survivor who, with support, can find her way to recovery and wellness. In a trauma-informed environment, clients set and manage progress to their own goals. This self-empowerment is a significant break from previous therapeutic models that saw the white-coated doctor as the all-knowing authority. In trauma-informed care, a whole-person approach, the client is in partnership with her provider, who provides evidence-based therapies and holistic tools for recovery.

Research and therapies continue to advance, increasing perspective of the impacts of trauma. Trauma-informed care, quickly becoming a treatment standard, offers hope and healing that generations of the past could not reach.  At Haven Hills Recovery, we integrate traditional talk therapy with various trauma modalities and interventions designed to address each woman individually considering their unique experiences.  If you or someone you love is struggling with symptoms of trauma and looking for treatment that includes mind, body, and soul, give us a call for a free assessment.

We offer IOP, PHP, and sober living for women and can provide a range of treatment needs including trauma treatment, drug and alcohol treatment, dual diagnosis care and treatment for anxiety and depression.

Haven Hills Recovery – Trauma Informed Care for Women