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Trauma Treatment

What is Trauma?

Trauma is defined as any distressing or frightening event that results in sustained, negative effects on a person’s daily functioning resulting in a reduced quality of life. Trauma can be the result of a one-time event, such as a car accident, or from prolonged exposure to stressful, violent, or invalidating environments.

What am I Experiencing that Might be Trauma-related?

Events and experiences that are traumatic for one person may not be encoded as trauma for another person. Likewise, everyone’s symptoms are unique to their own unique life story and history. For a broad understanding, symptoms of trauma fall into four main categories:

How Does Trauma Affect Different Age Groups?


Kids who have experienced trauma often have a hard time managing their emotions, causing them to develop maladaptive behaviors at home and in school including avoidance, isolation, self-harm, or suicidal ideation. DBT allows kids to process their trauma in a safe and supportive environment, and provides them with the tools they need to manage their emotions. At Suffolk DBT, we provide individualized DBT treatment for children to help manage their symptoms and develop skills to help them cope.


Families play a major role in how an individual heals from trauma. Without the right support, a person can feel invalidated and even regress in their healing process. Suffolk DBT provides families with the skills and education to effectively support their loved ones in their healing journey.


After trauma occurs, many people reject their own thoughts and feelings in relation to their trauma. This is referred to as self-invalidation. As a result of self-invalidation, an individual inadvertently loses trust in themselves, feeling intensely insecure and holding themselves to unrealistic standards.

Am I a Candidate for Trauma Treatment at Suffolk DBT?

We see trauma treatment as a multi-step process. It’s important not to rush and to take things slowly and methodically so that your healing will be long-term. First, we work with you to assess for behaviors like suicidal ideation, self-harm, and substance use. If present, we’ll start there to work with you to alleviate those struggles by learning skills to experience and tolerate intense emotions before focusing on part two, which is called Dialectical Behavioral Therapy-Prolonged Exposure (DBT-PE).

What is DBT-PE and How Can it Help Me?

At Suffolk DBT, we follow the DBT-Prolonged Exposure (DBT-PE) protocol to treat trauma. DBT-PE is a trauma treatment approach developed by Dr. Melanie Harned as an additional step after initial emotional safety skills are achieved through standard DBT treatment. The goal is to help you gain a new perspective about the traumas you have experienced that will cause you less distress and enable you to change unhelpful trauma-related patterns in your life.

If it is assessed that PE will be effective, the first part of treatment involves completing a “trauma interview” that helps the clinician to get an idea of the extent of trauma. You’ll decide together where you want to and it’s best to start. Then, you will safely revisit the incident in order to process it, which involves talking with your therapist about the emotions and thoughts that arise as a result of revisiting the experience. Through this, your trauma memories will become less overwhelming and will be less likely to come up unexpectedly.

Between sessions, you’ll be asked to engage in “homework” in order to enhance the treatment. The assignments will help you learn that these situations are safe and you can handle them so that they will no longer cause intense distress.

How Long Does it Take?

DBT PE typically lasts between 12-15 sessions, although the number of sessions you need will be determined based on your specific needs. Schedule an appointment by contacting us on our website or calling (631) 828-2264 today.