Trauma Treatment at Counterbalance Counseling & Psychiatry

Major Developments in Trauma Research and Understanding

Traditionally, trauma has been defined as any experience with or observation of life being threatened or lost. Years of research have shown us that both the definition of trauma and its effects are much more entrenched in our developmental experiences, daily life, and culture than we initially thought.

Research has come a long way from the “shell shock” that World War II soldiers experienced. Diagnoses have evolved to account for these developments in our understanding of trauma. Today, there are many things we know to be true of trauma that may be misunderstood or less prevalent in popular culture conversations.

How Trauma Can Begin at an Early Age

Research such as Tronick’s 1975 Still Face Experiment demonstrates how emotional disconnection, attachment traumas, and a cycle of negative emotional interactions at an early age can lead to the development of trauma.

As stand-alone experiences, it is less likely that a traumatic memory will develop from a moment similar to that depicted in the experiment. Rather, it is accumulations of negative interactions over time that can create traumatic experiences and memories.  

Traditional types of abuse (physical, neglect, or sexual abuse) are often easier to pinpoint, while more subtle traumatizing experiences are difficult to identify. This makes their negative effects even more challenging to distinguish.

It can be challenging to assign a label of “mistreatment” to an experience when someone can’t directly examine what happened to them. The nature of how we are wired to survive is the thing that makes this difficult.

As children, we survive through Mom and Dad (or your primary caregiver) and know that if Mom and Dad are “happy” and engaged with us, we will survive. Conversely, if Mom and Dad are not engaged with us, we won’t survive. Therefore, children are programmed to survive by dismissing, minimizing, accepting, and surviving whatever treatment they’re allotted because to question it is equivalent to not surviving.  

Lesser-Known Facts about Trauma:

  • Trauma is more common than we realize. It can even begin at a pre-verbal stage.
  • Traumatic experiences for an individual or child do not have to be born out of malice. Even with good intentions, the event can be received as traumatic.
  • Untreated trauma can lead to the development of Post Traumatic Stress.
  • Our innate survival instincts push us to minimize traumatic or distressing events in order to cope with them.
  • Some traumas are easily resolved and others require more help.
  • Trauma changes the way our body functions (neurotransmitters, tension, hormones). Those experiences physically manifest themselves, leading to medical issues, pain, tension, or sleep eating disruption, and many other physical symptoms.
  • A reaction to trauma leads to individuals enduring unhealthy situations we never imagined. These coping strategies can be maladaptive, affecting relationships, work, and daily living.
  • Attachment trauma and shame are real.

Individual Differences in Trauma

The types of trauma can range from preverbal attachment trauma, car accidents, sexual abuse, bullying in school, and much more.

It is important to understand that each person is uniquely positioned to experience, interact with, survive, and recover from traumatic experiences differently. This leads to an individual manifestation of trauma (in all its ranges).

Trauma and EMDR

Trauma changes the way our brains work.

EMDR is a therapeutic treatment that helps resolve some of those changes. Therefore, healing approaches must take individual differences into account. This is something we strongly believe and practice at Counterbalance Counseling & Psychiatry. 

Treatment for Trauma

Treatment options for trauma recovery include a kind, compassionate therapeutic relationship that creates a safe space. In this safe space, individuals can resolve and recover from traumatic experiences. All our Austin and El Paso providers are EMDR-trained specialists dedicated to helping you heal.

At Counterbalance Counseling & Psychiatry, our providers are also trained in other modalities to treat trauma and its intersecting mental health experiences ranging from Trauma-Informed CBT, Prolonged Exposure Therapy, and Cognitive Processing Therapy.    


Van der Kolk, B. (2014). The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Penguin Books. 
Shapiro, F. (2018). Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy: Basic Principles, Protocols and Procedures. Guilford Press. 
EMDRIA. (1995-2020). About EMDR Therapy. EMDRIA EMDR International Association.