Explains what trauma is and how it affects your mental health, including how you can help yourself, what treatments are available and how to overcome barriers to getting the right support. Also includes tips for people who want to support someone who has gone through trauma.
This page is about treatments that may help with the mental health effects of trauma. It covers:
Everyone has their own response to trauma. The treatment you are offered will depend on your particular symptoms and diagnosis (if you have one), and on your own unique needs. What helps is different person to person, and can change over time. So keeping an open mind and exploring different options can be useful.
There are different types of talking therapies but they are all designed to give you space to explore difficult feelings and experiences with a trained professional.
Different people find different types of therapy helpful for trauma – there isn't one tried and tested approach. Research has shown that the relationship you have with your therapist is particularly important, regardless of the type of therapy they practise.
Types of therapy some people find helpful include:
Find out more on our pages on talking therapy and counselling, including tips on how to get the most from therapy. You can also read more about what to expect from therapy for trauma on the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) website.
Arts and creative therapies are treatments which involve using arts-based activities like art, music or drama in a therapeutic environment, with the support of a trained professional. You don't need to have done these activities before, or have any particular skills or knowledge.
Some people say they find these sorts of therapies helpful because they provide ways of addressing painful feelings and difficult experiences without using words. This can include experiences of trauma. Find out more on our page on arts and creative therapies.
Some people find medication helpful in managing mental health problems that may be linked to trauma. Which type of drug you are offered will depend on the specific mental health problems or symptoms you're experiencing.
Before you decide to take any medication, you should make sure you have all the facts you need to feel confident about your decision. For guidance on what you might want to ask your doctor about any drug before you take it, including your right to refuse medication, see our information on psychiatric medication.
"A lot of my trauma centers around my gender and how other people perceive me. Finding good, supportive mental health professionals has really helped me understand how and why certain things affect me in specific ways."
Crisis services can be helpful if you're going through a mental health crisis. For example:
For more information, see our pages on crisis services.
"I finally managed to get some good therapy appropriate for my needs. Cognitive Analytical Therapy – 24 weeks of one-to-one with the NHS."
Here are some ways you could access treatment and support:
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) – which produces guidelines on best practice in health care – recommends treatments for particular mental health problems rather than for trauma overall. This could affect what treatment you're offered on the NHS.
To find out about treatments for particular conditions, see our mental health A-Z.
"For abuse by religious cult, I found SilverCloud online Cognitive Behaviour Therapy the most use. It covers all aspects of being better: rationalising, self-care, journaling, small improvements."
NHS bodies must follow the NHS Constitution when making decisions about treatment. This includes providing care and treatment that is appropriate to you, meets your needs and reflects your preferences. If your mental health problems relate to trauma, this should include receiving trauma-informed care.
If you don't feel like you are offered treatment that is right for you, you could talk to the provider and explain this to them. If that doesn't work you could make a complaint.
If receiving the wrong kind of care has caused you harm you might have a claim for clinical negligence. For this you would need to show that a healthcare professional failed in their duty to take care of you, and you experienced damage or loss as a result of that failure.
For more information on accessing treatment and how to get help if a treatment has harmed you, see our pages on seeking help for a mental health problem, complaining about health and social care and clinical negligence.
If you're finding it hard to access support, our page on overcoming barriers has some suggestions that could help too.
This information was published in January 2020. We will revise it in 2022.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.