Trauma Treatment Overview: How DBT PE Can Be Better for Complex Trauma vs. EMDR

A close up of wooden blocks that spell DBT. Learn more about how DBT can offer support by contacting a trauma therapist in Mahomet, IL. Search for trauma therapy in Champaign, IL for support with childhood trauma and high achievement today.

As a therapist, it's great to see that people are learning more about trauma and the impact it has on their mental health. With this, I also want to encourage people to seek trauma treatment. I hope this brief overview of trauma treatments helps you take the next step in finding relief.

A woman stands in front of another woman while holding a finger up. This could represent the support that a trauma therapist in Mahomet, IL can offer via EMDR. Learn more about how a post traumatic stress disorder therapist in Champaign, IL can help by searching for PTSD treatment in Champaign, IL. Another reason for this post is that I see lots of information lately advertising treatments like EMDR but not much on the treatment I use, DBT PE. I find DBT PE to be better for people like my clients. I especially find it better for clients who suffer from traumatic invalidation and those who face other forms of complex trauma.

What Is Trauma?

Trauma is an upsetting experience that is hard to handle and leaves emotional scars. It can result from things like accidents, war, or abuse. It can also occur from things like witnessing violence happening to others. Or from experiencing invalidation.

What are the effects of trauma?

For my clients, trauma leads to feeling intense shame and guilt. They feel these feelings in every aspect of their lives. Over time, they assume something's wrong with them. They don't realize that these thoughts and feelings are the consequences of trauma.

This unjustified shame feels so natural, making it scary to face real life. As a result, people are less likely to act like themselves and instead start to withdraw. Their false beliefs get stronger. They begin to believe they can prevent bad things from happening. This false sense of control raises their anxiety and leaves them exhausted.

These thoughts and feelings are painful, and it's easy to want to avoid them. But avoiding trauma can't get rid of it. Instead, the pain grows and causes post-traumatic stress disorder.

General Overview of Trauma Treatment

Trauma treatment aims to let your mind and body handle the trauma you experienced. Therapy will let you leave it in the past. As we can see from the above, trauma harms thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The most common forms of trauma treatments usually focus on one of the three. Below, I will highlight three common trauma treatments and their limits as they apply to clients with complex trauma, like traumatic invalidation.

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) targets how one thinks of one's trauma. It maintains that changing beliefs will help lessen intense feelings and behavior over time.

PE (Prolonged Exposure) teaches how to approach trauma memories slowly. It also teaches how to approach the feelings that trauma memories bring up. By lessening fear, people no longer avoid safe situations that remind them of the trauma.

EMDR (Eye Movement Dessentiztion and Reprocessing) is another popular form of trauma treatment. EMDR uses bilateral stimulation, like side-to-side eye movements, when a trauma memory comes up. The theory is that this will make the trauma memory feel less intense and easier to change.

While these treatments can be helpful, I find them limiting for my clients. My clients struggle to change their beliefs about trauma because their feelings about the trauma remain intense during the treatment. Even when treatments like PE work, clients find it hard to tolerate the painful emotions it brings up.

A man smiles while shaking hands of the therapist sitting across from them. Learn more about PTSD treatment in Champaign, IL and how a trauma therapist in Mahomet, IL can offer support. Search for childhood trauma and high achievement to learn more today. EMDR can help with a single recent trauma. Yet, it needs more support for complex trauma. Clients with a tendency to disconnect when confronting traumatic memories also find this form of treatment to be limiting.

How DBT PE Is Different From Other Trauma Treatment

I see DBT PE as the best of all trauma treatments. It builds on the evidence-based treatment of PE and adds it to Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). By adding the treatments together, it also enhances each treatment. DBT PE targets all aspects of trauma (false beliefs, intense emotions, and avoidance behaviors) at the same time. As a result, clients can better handle trauma treatment and are more likely to stick with therapy until progress occurs.

In this treatment, clients use DBT skills. They use them to build self-awareness and learn to handle feelings. Clients also build trust in their ability to handle emotions and care for themselves. They can then use these skills to tolerate trauma treatment better.

By focusing on emotions, clients benefit from slowly facing trauma memories. They do this while also facing their fears in real life. They prove to themselves that they can do whatever they want and don't have to avoid things to get through them.

As a result, clients find relief from PTSD. They also gain new emotional skills that improve the overall quality of their lives.


While I believe that DBT PE works wonders as a form of trauma treatment, the bottom line is that you start seeking treatment with whatever quality therapy is available to you.

From my experience and that of my clients, it may take a moment to find the therapy that best suits you. And it's okay to give yourself that time as you try different treatment options. The most important thing is that you start.

A close up of wooden blocks with letters that spell trauma. Learn more about how DBT can offer support by contacting a trauma therapist in Mahomet, IL. Search for trauma therapy in Champaign, IL for support with childhood trauma and high achievement today. Any quality therapist is going to help you approach any trauma informally. If you think about it, therapy in itself is an exposure. You are already facing many fears when calling to schedule an appointment.

Start Working With a Trauma Therapist in Mahomet, IL

If you are looking for more information about trauma treatment or wondering if your symptoms relate to post-traumatic stress disorder, feel free to reach out for support. You can schedule a free consultation with Live Lekko today by following these simple steps:

  1. Call or text to schedule your first appointment at 217-402-7817
  2. Schedule your first appointment at my Illinois-based practice
  3. Start overcoming past trauma

Other Services Offered with Live Lekko

Live Lekko is happy to offer support with a variety of mental health services to help you and your mental health. In addition to trauma therapy, we are happy to offer counseling for womengrief and loss counseling, and counseling for people-pleasing. Other mental health services include anxiety treatment and therapy for childhood emotional neglect. Whether you are in Peoria, Springfield, Mahomet, or somewhere in between in Illinois I can help with teletherapy. Visit my blog for more info today!