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Explains what trauma is and how it affects your mental health. Includes tips for helping yourself, what treatments are available and how to overcome barriers to getting support. Also has tips for supporting someone else who has gone through trauma.

Mae'r dudalen hon hefyd ar gael yn Gymraeg. This link will take you to a Welsh translation of this page.

Treatment and support for 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. Not everyone will feel they need treatment.

If you're looking for treatment, what you're offered will depend on your symptoms and diagnosis (if you have one), and on your needs. It also depends on what services are available in your area.

What helps is different from person to person, and can change over time. It can help to keep an open mind and explore different options.

The treatments for trauma are not always the same as recommended treatments for PTSD or complex PTSD. See our page on PTSD treatments to learn more. 

The right medication has helped, and I’m finding it easier to cope than I was a year ago. I’m waiting for CBT and I’m learning to be compassionate with myself.

Talking therapies

Talking therapies give you space to explore difficult feelings and experiences with a trained professional. You might find this helpful if you're struggling to process or understand your trauma. Or if you want to talk about your experiences confidentially.

There aren't guidelines recommending certain types of therapy for trauma. What works best will be personal to you. But research shows that therapy may be more helpful if the therapist:

  • Has a good understanding of trauma. This doesn't mean they need to have experienced trauma themselves. But that they understand how it affects people.
  • Understands your cultural or religious background. And knows how this might affect our response to trauma.
  • Can work with you over a long period of time. Time-limited therapies often don't give enough space to build trust.

Find out more on our pages on talking therapy and counselling, including tips on how to get the most from therapy.

I learned through therapy that I actually probably did survive because I used those coping behaviours, [which] were damaging, but they were the only ones I knew at the time.

If you're giving evidence in a criminal trial

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has published guidelines for vulnerable witnesses and victims of crime. This includes anyone giving evidence about rape or sexual assault. They advise that the most important factor when considering the option of having therapy as a victim or witness is your health and wellbeing. 

In the run up to the criminal trial, the police can request access to a victim's therapy notes. The police can request this if they reasonably think that the notes might reveal material relevant to the investigation or the likely issues at trial. 

Arts and creative therapies

Arts and creative therapies are treatments involving activities like art, music or drama.

They happen in a therapeutic environment, with a trained professional. You don't need to have done these activities before. Or have any particular skills or knowledge.

These therapies can help to address difficult feelings and experiences without using words. They can also help you represent and approach your trauma in different ways. Find out more on our page on arts and creative therapies.


Some of us may find medication helps to manage the symptoms we experience after trauma.

The type of drug you're offered will depend on the symptoms you're experiencing. And any other health needs you might have.

Before you decide to take any medication, make sure you have all the facts you need to feel confident about your decision. Our information on psychiatric medication has guidance on what you might want to ask your doctor. This includes information about your right to refuse medication.

Benzodiazepines and trauma

Benzodiazepines are a type of sedative medication that slow down the body and brain's functions.

Benzodiazepines are not recommended if you have recently experienced trauma. Evidence suggests that they can affect your ability to recover.

But they are sometimes prescribed to treat severe anxiety and insomnia. These are symptoms you might experience following a traumatic event.

If you feel medication could help with severe anxiety or insomnia, you could ask your doctor about:

Complementary and alternative therapies

Complementary and alternative therapies include many different types of therapy, such as body-based or meditation-based therapies.

There are different levels of evidence on what therapies are effective. But some research suggests these therapies might help with symptoms of trauma:

  • Acupuncture
  • Aromatherapy
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Massage
  • Mindfulness
  • Using a weighted blanket
  • Yoga

Our pages on complementary and alternative therapies have more information on these treatments, including how they work and their safety.

For me my mindfulness needed to be straightforward enough that I didn’t need to stress over it but have an element of challenge for mind to focus on and take me away from the emotions that were currently too big.

Crisis services

Crisis services can help if you're going through a mental health crisis. For example:

  • Samaritans are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can call 116 123 for free, email [email protected] or visit some branches in person. You can also call the Welsh Language Line on 0300 123 3011 (7pm–11pm every day).
  • Local support services may be available in your area, including day services, drop-in sessions or issue-specific support.
  • Crisis teams can support you at home during a mental health crisis.
  • Crisis houses offer intensive, short-term support to help you manage a mental health crisis in a residential setting, rather than in a hospital.

For more information, see our pages on crisis services

Accessing treatment for trauma

These are some ways you could access treatment and support for trauma:

  • Your GP. For advice on preparing for a GP appointment, see our page on talking to your GP about mental health.
  • Self-referral. Some areas run services which you can contact directly to refer yourself for talking therapy. Your GP might give you information about this. If you live in England, you could try the NHS talking therapies finder on the NHS website. Our page on talking therapy and counselling includes more information about NHS talking therapies.
  • Specialist organisations. See our useful contacts page for organisations that may offer therapy or other support for particular types of trauma. They may also be able to put you in touch with local services.
  • Local trauma services. Some organisations offer free or low-cost trauma therapy. Your local Mind may have information about services in your area.
  • Private therapists. Finding a private therapist is another option some people choose to explore. But it can be expensive so isn't an option for everyone. Find out more on our page on finding a therapist.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) – which produces guidelines on best practice in healthcare – 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 mental health problems, see our mental health A-Z.

Trauma-informed care

Trauma-informed care is now very common in the NHS. If a service says it's trauma-informed, this means all staff should:

  • Understand how trauma can affect people, including how mental health problems can be reactions to trauma
  • Ask sensitively about past trauma, and offer appropriate support if you disclose it
  • Understand how mental health services can cause harm if they aren't trauma-aware
  • Understand your strengths and recognise what has helped you survive and cope
  • Be trustworthy, transparent and involve you in your care

What if I'm not offered the right type of treatment?

The NHS should provide care and treatment that is appropriate for you, and meets your needs and preferences. If your mental health problems relate to trauma, this should include receiving trauma-informed care. Visit our pages on seeking help for a mental health problem for information on accessing the right treatment for you. 

If you don't feel like you're offered treatment that is right for you, you could talk to the provider and explain this to them. If you're finding it hard to access support, our page on overcoming barriers has some suggestions that could help. If speaking to your provider about what you want doesn't work, you could make a complaint.

And if receiving the wrong kind of care has caused you harm, this could be clinical negligence. 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.

This information was published in December 2023. We will revise it in 2026.

References and bibliography available on request.

If you want to reproduce this content, see our permissions and licensing page.

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