Trauma-Focused Therapies Offered in a PHP

Read on to discover how trauma PHP treatment programs offer tailored therapies, support, and healing for trauma survivors.

What is Trauma?

Trauma is an emotional response to a deeply distressing or disturbing event. Trauma can be caused by various events including abuse, disasters, accidents, war, or witnessing violence.

The effects of trauma can manifest in various ways, including:
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, and fatigue
  • Emotional symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and anger
  • Behavioral symptoms such as isolation, withdrawal, and substance abuse
trauma php treatment

What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition triggered by witnessing or experiencing a terrifying event.

People with PTSD may experience the following symptoms:1

  • Intrusive thoughts, such as flashbacks and nightmares
  • Avoidance of people, places, or situations that remind them of the trauma
  • Negative thoughts and feelings such as guilt, shame, and fear
  • Hyperarousal symptoms such as difficulty sleeping, irritability, and difficulty concentrating

Distinguishing Between Trauma and PTSD

While trauma and PTSD are related, they’re not the same. Almost everyone experiences trauma at some point, but not everyone develops PTSD. The key difference lies in the person’s response to trauma.
Trauma is the initial emotional and psychological injury. PTSD, on the other hand, is a prolonged reaction to trauma that affects one’s daily life and functioning.
Fortunately, with proper treatment and support, these concerns can be effectively managed. Trauma PHP treatment is one effective treatment option for those struggling with trauma or PTSD.

What Is a Trauma-Informed Partial Hospitalization Program?

A trauma-informed partial hospitalization program (PHP) is an intensive treatment program that offers structured and comprehensive care for individuals struggling with trauma and related issues. In these programs, clients can attend the program during the day and return home at night.

Patients attend the program for several hours each day, typically 5-6 days a week. Depending on an individual’s unique needs, these programs may last for a few weeks to several months.

Comparing Trauma PHP Treatment with Other Treatment Modalities

It’s easy to understand the nature of trauma PHP treatment when comparing it with other modalities. Here is a brief comparison:

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment is the most intensive option. It requires clients to stay at a treatment facility 24/7. It’s best suited for those who need constant care and supervision, often immediately following a crisis, or for those with severe symptoms.

Outpatient Therapy

Outpatient therapy is a less intensive option than trauma PHP treatment. It allows individuals to live at home and attend treatment a few times a week. It’s a good option for those with mild to moderate symptoms, or for those who need continued support after completing more intensive treatment.

Traditional PHP

A traditional PHP is structured but often lacks trauma-specific therapies. Trauma PHP treatment programs, in contrast, are designed to meet the unique needs of those with trauma symptoms.
They use specialized therapeutic methods to address trauma-related challenges and symptoms. These programs aim to promote healing and recovery, focusing on the specific effects of trauma.

Admission Process and Eligibility for a Trauma PHP

The first step in entering a trauma PHP program is a thorough assessment. This assessment is designed to understand the depth and impact of an individual’s trauma-related concerns.
During this process, one can expect:
  • A detailed interview to discuss past experiences, symptoms, and challenges 
  • Completion of questionnaires and surveys to evaluate the severity of the individual’s symptoms 
  • A physical exam and review of medical history
  • Assessment of the individual’s current support system and resources
This step goes beyond mere diagnosis or labeling. It’s about understanding the person holistically. Here, the individual’s feelings, thoughts, and experiences are not just seen but truly heard and acknowledged.

Criteria for Trauma PHP Eligibility

To be eligible for trauma PHP treatment programs, there are specific criteria that individuals must meet. These criteria ensure that the program is well-suited to the participant’s needs and can provide the level of care necessary to achieve recovery.

The Severity of Trauma-Related Symptoms

The program is typically designed for those who experience significant impairment in their daily functioning due to trauma. This might include difficulties in managing emotions, maintaining relationships, or performing at work or school.
The absence of certain medical conditions that require more intensive medical supervision is also a criterion. Since trauma PHP treatment programs provide treatment on a part-time basis, it’s essential that individuals are medically stable and do not require around-the-clock care.

Risk of Harm

Trauma PHP treatment programs require that participants do not pose a significant risk to themselves or others. If a person is struggling with severe suicidal ideation or self-harm behaviors, a higher level of care might be recommended before transitioning to a PHP.

Motivation for Treatment

Trauma PHP treatment programs are intensive and require active participation. Participants should be willing and able to engage in the therapeutic process. This includes regular attendance and involvement in various therapy sessions.

Support System

Having a supportive network has been found to improve treatment outcomes. It’s important to have at least one person who can provide emotional support and help with practical tasks, such as transportation or childcare, during the program.2

Benefits of Trauma PHP Treatment

Participating in trauma PHP treatment can offer several key benefits. These will be detailed below.

The Intensity of Care

Individuals participate in daily therapy sessions, which allows for more frequent and in-depth exploration of trauma-related issues. This intensive approach can lead to quicker symptom reduction and a deeper understanding of trauma.

Comprehensive Support System

Trauma PHP treatment offers a community of peers to recover with. Group therapy sessions create a space to connect with others who have similar experiences, fostering a sense of belonging and understanding.
Moreover, the multidisciplinary team approach in trauma PHP treatment ensures that recovery plans are holistic. This means they address psychological needs and any social or medical concerns.

Continuity of Care

Trauma PHP treatment is often used as a step down from inpatient treatment or as an alternative to residential treatment. This ensures a seamless transition in care and provides ongoing support to maintain progress made in the program.
These programs also coordinate aftercare services to help individuals continue their healing journey even after completing the program.

Evidence-Based Therapies Utilized in Trauma PHP Treatment

Trauma PHP treatment utilizes a range of evidence-based therapies. These therapies have been proven effective in treating trauma-related disorders. Some cornerstone therapies used in trauma PHP treatment programs include:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a widely used therapy for trauma. It is particularly effective for treating PTSD. It focuses on identifying, understanding, and changing thinking and behavior patterns.

In trauma cases, CBT helps individuals:3
  • Recognize and reframe irrational or maladaptive thoughts related to the traumatic event
  • Gradually confront and desensitize trauma-related memories and feelings 
  • Develop skills to cope with anxiety and stress
  • Break patterns of negative or dangerous behavior

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

ACT helps individuals accept what is out of their control and commit to taking action that improves their lives. This therapy is beneficial for individuals struggling with feelings of shame, guilt, or self-blame after a traumatic event.
This therapy helps individuals:4
  • Learn to accept the thoughts and emotions related to the trauma without trying to suppress or avoid them.
  • Focus on mindfulness skills to help them become more aware of the present moment and less entangled in negative thought patterns.
  • Helps identify personal values and commit to actions that align with these values, despite painful experiences.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is specifically designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories. It works by helping the brain reprocess traumatic memories, allowing them to become less distressing.5

While recalling the traumatic memory, individuals focus on a back-and-forth movement such as eye movements or hand tapping. This bilateral stimulation helps the brain reprocess the trauma in a safe and controlled environment.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT is a type of therapy that combines cognitive behavioral therapy with mindfulness practices. This approach can be helpful for individuals struggling with intense emotions and difficulty regulating them after experiencing trauma.

DBT works to:
  • Teach skills to help cope with intense emotions, such as distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness
  • Help individuals understand and accept their experiences
  • Provide tools to manage intense emotions and reduce self-destructive behaviors

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

MBSR is effective in reducing symptoms of trauma. It involves incorporating mindfulness practices into daily life and utilizing them to cope with difficult emotions.

MBSR seeks to:6
  • Teach techniques such as meditation, body scans, and yoga to help individuals become more aware of their thoughts and feelings without judgment
  • Encourage self-care and stress management techniques such as self-compassion and relaxation exercises
  • Help break the cycle of rumination often found in trauma survivors

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

While medications do not cure trauma, they can create a more stable psychological platform for individuals to engage in therapy.

It’s common for individuals who have experienced trauma to also struggle with mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety. MAT can help address these co-occurring disorders.

Common medications used for MAT include:
  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-anxiety medications
  • Mood stabilizers
  • Antipsychotics 

Cultural Competence in Trauma PHP Treatment

One important aspect of personalizing therapy is ensuring cultural sensitivity and inclusivity.

Incorporating Cultural Sensitivity in Therapy

Cultural sensitivity means understanding how a person’s cultural background can influence their perception of trauma and coping mechanisms.
Therapists in trauma PHP treatment are specially trained to be aware of cultural differences in expressing emotions, discussing personal issues, and the meaning of mental health.
Similarly, understanding a person’s cultural background can guide therapists in choosing treatment methods and communication styles that align with their values and beliefs.

Importance of Inclusivity in Therapy

Inclusivity goes hand in hand with cultural sensitivity. It means making sure that the individual’s unique identity, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability status, is acknowledged and respected during treatment.
Having a diverse team of clinicians who bring various cultural perspectives and understandings to the program is vital. This diversity within the treatment team enhances the program’s ability to connect with and effectively treat individuals from various backgrounds.
Inclusivity also involves creating a safe and non-discriminatory environment where clients feel comfortable expressing themselves without fear of judgment or discrimination.

The Benefits

Culturally competent therapy has numerous benefits, including:
  • Increased trust and rapport between therapist and client
  • More effective communication and understanding of cultural differences
  • A deeper understanding of how trauma may be experienced differently in various cultures
  • Tailored treatment plans that align with the client’s values and beliefs

Aftercare and Relapse Prevention After a PHP

The transition to everyday life after treatment is a critical phase where the skills learned in the program are put into practice.
After completing a trauma PHP program, patients are equipped with various strategies for long-term healing. These are designed to help the individual maintain the progress made during the program and continue to build on it in their everyday life.
Some key elements to focus on during aftercare and relapse prevention include:

Ongoing Therapy

Instead of intense daily therapy sessions, individuals will transition to regular weekly or bi-weekly sessions with a therapist. The focus may shift from addressing past trauma to managing risks and developing healthy coping mechanisms.
Therapy can also serve as a safe space to process any challenges or setbacks encountered during recovery.

Medication Management

If medications were prescribed as part of the treatment plan in the PHP, continuing to take these as directed is important. Regular check-ins with a psychiatrist or medical provider can ensure that medications are still effective and that any side effects are managed.

Building a Supportive Network

Being surrounded by those who understand and care about one’s well-being can provide valuable emotional support and accountability. This can include family, friends, or even a support group specifically for trauma survivors.

Individuals can ask for a referral to a support group from their therapist or treatment center. After completing trauma PHP treatment, individuals may also be invited to participate in alumni groups.


Lifestyle Modifications

Individuals should avoid and change anything that may have contributed to their trauma or hindered their recovery.
This could mean making changes to the person’s living environment. Sometimes, being in the same environment where the trauma occurred can trigger painful memories and hinder progress.

Relapse Prevention Plan

Relapse is a common occurrence in recovery. It can be an opportunity to learn and make necessary adjustments to the recovery plan.
In trauma recovery, relapse may manifest in different ways. It could be:
  • Re-experiencing trauma memories or flashbacks
  • Avoiding triggers and isolating oneself from others
  • Engaging in self-destructive behaviors as a coping mechanism
A relapse prevention plan is a personalized action plan that outlines steps to take in case of a relapse. A common framework for creating a relapse prevention plan includes:

Identifying Triggers

A trigger is anything that stimulates a traumatic memory or reaction. These can be:
  • Sensory: This includes smells, sounds, sights, and tastes. For instance, the sound of a car backfiring might trigger someone who has experienced combat trauma.
  • Emotional: This involves feelings that were present during the traumatic event, such as intense fear, sadness, or anger. 
  • Environmental: This includes specific locations, anniversaries of the event, certain people, or situations that remind you of the experience.

Identifying Warning Signs

These are physical, emotional, and behavioral cues that can indicate a potential relapse. These can include:
  • Changes in thought patterns and emotions
  • Increased avoidance behaviors
  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns

Response Strategies

These are the first steps to take when someone notices early warning signs. They should be simple and easily actionable.
This can include:
  • Practicing deep breathing exercises to manage acute stress
  • Using grounding techniques, such as the 5-4-3-2-1 method, to stay present
  • Engaging in a brief physical activity, like a walk or stretching, to help shift focus

Emergency Plan

This is the final step to take if a relapse does occur. Individuals should reach out for support and take immediate action to manage the situation.
This plan can include:
  • Identifying a safe place to go to, such as a friend’s house or a designated calm space 
  • Keeping a list of emergency contacts, including a mental health crisis hotline or local emergency services
  • A prearranged agreement with a friend, family member, or therapist to check in if certain signs of crisis are observed
trauma php treatment

How Continuum Outpatient Center’s Trauma PHP Treatment Can Help

Choosing our trauma PHP treatment is the first step toward reclaiming your life from the shadows of trauma. Our focus is not just on overcoming trauma but also on empowering you for future resilience and emotional well-being.

We offer:
  • A Safe Environment: We prioritize creating a safe space for you to explore and heal from your traumatic experiences.
  • Active Participation in Recovery: You are at the center of your recovery journey, actively involved in setting and achieving your wellness goals. 
  • Specialized Therapies: Our therapies are not just evidence-based but also trauma-attuned. Our therapists have specialized training and experience in treating trauma-related disorders.
  • Holistic Approach: We understand that trauma affects all aspects of life, so we provide a multidisciplinary treatment approach to address your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.
  • Continued Access to Care: We provide ongoing access to therapeutic resources and community support. We also offer aftercare services to help you maintain your progress and prevent relapse.

Contact Us Today

Trauma is not your identity, and it does not have to dictate your future. With our help, you can find healing, hope, and the strength to move forward towards a brighter tomorrow.

Contact us now to learn more about how we can help you on your journey to recovery.

Questions About Treatment?
Reach out to our knowledgeable and compassionate Continuum Outpatient Center team for the guidance and support you need for sustainable recovery. We’re here to help you build a foundation for long-term happiness, wellness, and healing.