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Trauma Therapy For Teens

trauma therapy

Newly imposed expectations, increased curiosity, life challenges, as well as inevitable hormone shifts and physical changes are unavoidable side effects of the maturation process that occurs during one’s adolescence. In addition to the immense growth that occurs during the teenage years, adolescents are exposed to a plethora of difficult experiences, such as teen trauma. Unfortunately, teen trauma is not uncommon. The Boston Children’s Hospital conducted a study that found sixty-one percent of young people (age 13 to 17) had been exposed to at least one traumatic event in their lifetime, and nineteen percent had experienced three or more traumatic events in their lifetime. Exposure to trauma can lead to the development of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), which is essentially when one’s stress response system does not properly turn off like it should. Commonly reported traumatic events that can lead to PTSD include the following examples, as provided by Teens Health from Nemours:

  • Fire
  • Physical abuse
  • Violent assaults 
  • Sexual abuse
  • Car accidents
  • Natural or man-made disasters
  • Being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness
  • Witnessing another person go through a traumatic event
  • Military combat
  • Rape

The symptoms that can manifest after exposure to a single traumatic event or repeated exposure to trauma will vary from teen to teen. The symptoms can also change in intensity over time. Facing teen trauma can be incredibly overwhelming for both the teenager as well as the teen’s loved one’s.  


There are a plethora of different therapeutic modalities available for young people that have been exposed to trauma. It is important to bear in mind that there is no generalized treatment plan used for teens that have experienced trauma. Every person is different and will require a somewhat unique treatment plan when it comes to navigating the healing process from trauma exposure. Treatment plans can include a combination of different therapeutic methods, which can help to ensure that all of the nuanced needs of the teen are properly addressed. Some of the therapy options that could be integrated into a teen treatment plan can include any combination of the following:

  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR): this utilizes guided eye movement techniques to help a teen process his or her memories, thoughts and emotional associations in relation to the experienced trauma
  • Creative arts therapy (play therapy, art therapy, music therapy, drama therapy, sand therapy, etc.): this can provide the young person with a different medium to express, process and integrate his or her thoughts and feelings surrounding trauma
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): this can help correct irrational and/ or inaccurate thoughts a young person may have regarding the trauma as well as help him or her develop skills and healthy coping mechanisms for reducing anxiety and stress 
  • Group therapy: participating in group therapy sessions can help a young person learn from peers that are navigating thoughts and emotions related to trauma

There are certain therapy methods that have been reported to be more successful in the treatment of trauma with teens than others. Through working with the teenager, mental health professionals are able to identify what therapeutic tactics are helpful to the treatment process and which may need to be altered during treatment. 

For Information and Support 

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know is in need of mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person for the long term. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.

Our admissions team is available to answer any general questions regarding mental health issues, treatment, and/or specific questions about the program at Pacific Teen Treatment and how we might be able to help your family. We can be reached by phone 24/7 at 800-531-5769. You can also contact us via email at or through our contact form.

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