Types of Trauma Therapy for Adolescents

Mental Health, Trauma | 0 comments

With trauma being fairly common for adolescents, there are several types of trauma therapy available, depending on the type and severity. In Massachusetts, around 36% of Massachusetts youth up to age 17 experienced at least one form of trauma in the prior year. Not all of those adolescents require the same type of treatment. 

Types of therapy used to relieve the effects of trauma include: 

Some treatment programs are designed to utilize several therapeutic modalities and formulate a custom treatment for an individual suffering from trauma. Outpatient treatment for trauma allows adolescents to seek treatment while staying in school. Residential treatment is often used for serious cases of trauma, in which adolescents need an overnight facility. 

Trauma-Informed Therapy

Trauma-informed therapy focuses on bringing an awareness of trauma into every part of an adolescent’s treatment. In this type of therapy, adolescents seeking treatment learn how their trauma shapes their well-being and ability to cope. This is all learned in a safe environment with the help of a mental health professional who has experience with clients suffering from all types of trauma. 

Even individuals who are not in treatment for trauma may go through trauma-informed therapy. This therapeutic approach is often used alongside other types of therapy. Trauma survivors burdened by feelings of guilt or shame may begin to acknowledge their emotions while pursuing symptoms often linked to trauma,  such as self-harm

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is used for trauma treatment when adolescents must learn how to alter harmful, intrusive thinking to improve emotion regulation. This leads to overall healthier behaviors by focusing on one factor at a time. 

Trauma-informed CBT for adolescents may utilize family therapy to safely bring parents or caregivers into the treatment process.  

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT for trauma requires teaching adolescents emotional regulation skills that help them better understand and manage their emotions. A mental health professional will help you to understand whether an adolescent suffering from trauma could benefit from DBT within their treatment program.

This skills-based approach incorporates mindfulness, emotion regulation, and other therapeutic modalities into treatment for trauma survivors. Dialectical thinking is another skill used to cope with trauma, which requires individuals to see things from multiple perspectives, adapt to new thinking, and change thinking based on information. 


Psychotherapy is a well-known type of therapy for trauma that involves an adolescent talking through their emotions, traumatic memories, symptoms, thoughts, and problems. This allows a mental health professional to help the client manage symptoms and improve their healing.

Having a strong understanding of one’s trauma allows a mental health professional to best address the issues using the right therapeutic modalities for that individual. Because no traumatic event is alike, creating a personalized treatment is the best way for individuals to learn how to heal. 

Exposure Therapy

While not as common, exposure therapy is a type of trauma therapy that uses methods of confronting traumatic experiences to help reduce negative emotions. This does not work for every type of trauma, as it can only be used on trauma that is capable of being addressed safely. 

Used most often for those suffering from PTSD, exposure therapy teaches adolescents to gradually approach details or memories of a traumatic event. Some mental health professionals may not recommend exposure therapy, depending on the trauma that needs to be addressed. 

Outpatient Treatment for Trauma

Several types of therapy can be incorporated into a single treatment plan for adolescents suffering from trauma. For those who do not require a residential treatment program, an outpatient treatment program aims to incorporate several types of trauma therapy into a program that an individual can undergo while still attending school. 

With trauma, some adolescents may not want to share their need for treatment with peers, friends, or teachers. Outpatient treatment is an option that protects adolescents’ right to healing privately by allowing them to still attend school while seeking treatment.

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