Online Trauma Therapy: How Does It Work?
Trauma is the aftermath of a disturbing event that may be difficult to talk about. This is one of the reasons you might find it difficult to seek professional help. The prospect of sitting in front of a stranger and opening up can be stressful even for someone who didn’t go through a trauma. Thankfully, online trauma therapy can help you overcome at least part of this obstacle. At Therapy Central, we offer online trauma therapy that allows you to receive treatment from the comfort of your home. Getting help is important as untreated emotional distress might turn into posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that comes with unpleasant symptoms; nightmares, flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, and sleeping problems. This blog will give you an idea of what to expect from online trauma therapy.
When Should I Seek Trauma Therapy?
If you’re experiencing symptoms that interfere with your ability to live a peaceful life, it would be a good idea to seek professional help. This is because, unfortunately, what you’re going through may not go away on its own, and any buried memories and emotions may resurface sooner or later!
Even if you’re currently not dealing with any symptoms but went through something traumatic, it could be a good idea to still consider speaking to a mental health professional. If you want to receive the same quality of treatment but without leaving the house, online trauma therapy is for you.
What Is Online Trauma Therapy and What to Expect?
In a nutshell, online trauma therapy follows the same principles as face-to-face trauma therapy. Two of the most effective types of therapy to treat trauma are Trauma-Focussed Cognitive-Therapy (TF-CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitisation and Processing (EMDR), which we will talk about in a bit more depth in the next sections.
Here are the benefits you can expect from online trauma therapy:
1) Coming to terms with the trauma
2) Lessening the symptoms of the trauma
3) Improved quality of your life
4) Regaining a sense of agency and control over your life
5) Living more in the present instead of focussing often on your past
A therapist will help you process the painful memories and assist you in rebuilding a healthier view of yourself, past events, and your life using various techniques and interventions. Regardless of the approach used, these will always be based on and tailored around your circumstances. Depending on the type of therapy, you might learn about trauma and its effects on your mental wellbeing, as well as develop skills to cope with emotions associated with the traumatic experience.
Does Online Trauma Therapy Work?
Both EMDR and TF-CBT online therapies are effective treatments that aim to lessen the impact the trauma has on mental wellbeing. In a recent study, participants who experience PTSD symptoms received 7 sessions of either TF-CBT or EMDR therapy. At a one-month follow-up, it was found that their anxiety was reduced by 30% and trauma-related symptoms by 55%. 
Patients treated with online trauma therapy report fewer negative feelings associated with the upsetting memory, relieve trauma less, and have an improved quality of life.
How Long Does Online Trauma Therapy Last?
The length of the therapy will depend on your individual symptoms, circumstances and how well you respond to treatment. In general, you can expect TF-CBT to last for approximately 12-15 sessions and EMDR about 3 to 12 sessions.
Online Trauma Sessions: How Do They Work and What Do They Focus On?
Trauma-Focussed Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (TF-CBT) is a treatment that focusses on challenging, changing cognitive distortions developed because of a traumatic event. Additionally, it allows a client to learn coping strategies by giving them the tools to process and identify thoughts and emotions related to trauma.
At the beginning of a session, your therapist will teach you about the nature of trauma and come up with behaviour management strategies – you’ll learn techniques that help you reduce stress. For example, a therapist might show you how to perform relaxation and other techniques on a video chat (e.g., via Zoom) and send you links to helpful videos that you can watch in your own time.
The next step of the therapy is usually identifying inaccurate and unhelpful thoughts about the distressing event and realising that they can be changed. In the next phase, a therapist is likely to use exposure techniques that aim to help you process the trauma and minimise the avoidance that impairs your daily functioning. For example, you’ll be encouraged to create a trauma narrative by describing the trauma in a shared document or drawing on a whiteboard that your therapist can view at the same time.
At the end of the therapy, your therapist will discuss personal safety techniques with you to avoid trauma in the future.
In EMDR therapy, a patient is asked to recall a traumatic event while the therapist directs their eye movement. Repeating this should make the memory less upsetting over time as it creates dual awareness – both eye movement and thinking about the painful memory engages the working memory, whose capacity is limited. Moving eyes from side to side prevents it from fully concentrating on the upsetting memory and leads to desensitisation. The strength of EMDR is that it directly alters the way memory is stored in the brain.
In online trauma therapy, a therapist may set up an animation that requires a client to move their eyes back and forward. At the same time, they ask questions to help the client focus on the traumatic memory. Before the sessions begin, your therapist will review your history to identify painful memories and help you develop coping strategies that can be used during and outside of therapy sessions.
What Are the Advantages of Online Trauma Therapy?
Online therapy is as effective as in-person therapy and offers a range of benefits that will help you overcome trauma-related symptoms. Additionally, the online nature of the therapy has the following advantages:
Online therapies are more convenient than face-to-face therapies. If you decide to attend therapy online, you won’t have to waste time on getting to your therapist’s office or worry about making it on time. You’ll also be more likely to find a time that suits your needs the most.
Online therapy allows you to choose a therapist that best suits your needs and preferences even if you don’t live in close proximity. It’s also a great solution for those with disabilities that make it difficult to travel to therapy sessions.
The prospect of attending therapy in an unfamiliar environment might be anxiety-producing. In those cases, online therapy might be a better option as it allows you to stay in a place you feel most secure at.
Doing trauma therapy online means less commuting, which in turns is likely to reduce the overall costs (e.g., commuting) associated with your therapy.
Tips To Prepare for Online Trauma Therapy
The idea of facing your thoughts and distressing memories can be terrifying and lack of preparation might only make it more stressful. Here are some things to keep in mind that will help you feel more at ease and prevent technology-related setbacks:
- Check your Internet connection
To make sure nothing interrupts your therapy session, check your Internet connection beforehand and disable any unnecessary programmes.
- Test your camera and microphone
Try to access the virtual meeting before the session starts to make sure your camera and microphone work correctly. If you cannot access it before, ask you therapist whether they can see you and hear you smoothly and without delay. If there are technical issues, don’t be afraid of asking your therapist to take a short break and even restart the virtual meeting.
- Make yourself comfortable
Make sure that your chair is comfortable to sit in and keep a glass of water at hand. Additionally, if you live with other people, use headphones to increase privacy.
- Write down your thoughts
If there’s anything in particular you want to tell your therapist about, you can keep notes right next to you and refer to them when needed.
- Remember that therapy is a slow process
A lot of people believe that describing the traumatic event in detail is the main goal of the therapy and that it will make them feel better straight away. If you experienced something traumatic, changing your thought process and coping with emotions is a difficult and lengthy process. Additionally, talking to a therapist online might be awkward at first so take your time to open up.
- Try to add self-care to your routine
Working through your thoughts and emotions after trauma can be mentally exhausting. Make sure you have an after-care plan prepared to lift your mood after a difficult therapy session. For example, you could have a bath straight after the session is over.
Improving Trauma Symptoms with The Help Of Online Trauma Therapy
Dealing with trauma can impair your functioning and prevent you from enjoying life to the fullest. Online therapy can help you process the traumatic memory, reduce distressing symptoms, and allow you to regain control as a result. At Therapy Central, we have qualified therapists that specialise in online trauma therapies. Contact us for a free 15-min consultation to see if our help would fit your needs.
More readings :
Discover more about Trauma Therapy and PTSD Therapy
More on EMDR
 Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Children and Adolescents: Assessing the Evidence | Psychiatric Services (psychiatryonline.org)