PTSD Treatment & New Ways To Help People
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects millions of Americans every day. While most people associate the disorder with combat veterans, people from all walks of life need PTSD treatment. Common experiences that lead to PTSD include:
- Life-threatening events
- Rape or sexual assault
- Natural disaster
- Life-changing accident
- Terrorist attacks
After going through a traumatic event like the ones listed above, a great deal many people find it difficult to cope with life afterward. However, that does not necessarily mean they have PTSD. Those who find their symptoms persist for months–even years– after their traumatic experience and find it difficult to function in day-to-day life may need PTSD treatment. Common symptoms associated with PTSD include:
- Irritability and hostility
- Self-destructive behaviors
- Social isolation
- Apathy and mistrust
- Agitation and hypervigilance
- Flashbacks and nightmares
- Emotional detachment
- Unwanted thoughts
PTSD Treatment Affects Everyone
PTSD does not discriminate. People of all backgrounds, heritages, and ethnicities develop PTSD as a result of traumatic experiences. Typically, those afflicted work to avoid all thought of their trigger and even actively try and forget it. However, trauma never really leaves us and will creep up on you in scary ways.
Many people try to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. Substance abuse only exacerbates PTSD symptoms and prolongs treatment. Those who suffer from chemical dependence or addiction should address the issue separately from their PTSD treatment. However, resolving both issues together improves the healing process.
When going through PTSD treatment, your therapist will suggest several therapy options and techniques try. While no two people are alike, neither are treatments. At Gateway Counseling, we strive to provide the most caring and effective treatment options available. Below we profile two modern techniques in the field of PTSD treatment: Prolonged Exposure Therapy and Cognitive Processing Therapy.
Prolonged Exposure Therapy
Experts designed Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE) to help patients experience the true meaning and impact their trauma has on their lives. In particular, therapists developed PE for victims of abuse. Doctors find their symptoms often imitate those with post-war PTSD.
The goal of PE is to work with the patient to change their reactions to triggers. The therapist helps the patient re-live through situations replicating the trauma. Additionally, they verbalize their memories of the incident in a safe space. A typical PE session lasts about 90 minutes, each one working towards the most distressing memories. Over time, the patient masters stressful situations.
There are three main components of Prolonged Exposure Therapy:
- Breathing – The therapist trains the patient to control their breathing and use it as a tool to help relax when feeling distressed.
- Real world exposure – Also known as “in vivo” exposure, this practice involves immersing the patient in situations they avoid because of their relation to the traumatic experience. The therapist ensures the exposure is safe and works with the PTSD survivor to reduce stress at the moment.
- Imaginal exposure – This tactic involves talking through the trauma repeatedly with the therapist. Additionally, the patient expresses their emotions relating to the experience. Eventually, the patient learns to control their emotions regarding the trauma. Finally, they learn they do not have to fear their memories.
Cognitive Processing Therapy
Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is a treatment developed for veterans suffering from PTSD. The group treatment involves having each patient write an impact statement and sharing it. Together, the patients work through their negative emotions and guilt to see the light at the end of the tunnel. People find comfort in the group setting because it facilitates camaraderie and emotional bonds in a safe environment.
CPT helps patients make peace with the trauma by facing it head on, rather than avoiding it. By interacting with other PTSD patients, those going through CPT receive various insights into how trauma changes the victim’s world. Furthermore, it shows that they are not alone in their journey.
There are four main components of Cognitive Processing Therapy:
- Education on PTSD Symptoms. A patient going through CPT begins by going over the very real symptoms of PTSD. Their education involves asking questions about the disorder and what will happen in therapy going forward. This step provides complete transparency between the therapist and patient. This transparency fosters trust and security in the therapy process.
- Identifying Thoughts and Feelings. As people living with PTSD often suppress their emotions involving their trauma, it is important for the patient to learn how to identify them. Often, we burden ourselves with unnecessary guilt involving trauma. This step helps patients identify unhelpful emotions so they can release them.
- Developing Skills. Awareness of emotions and thoughts leads to action. Once a patient identifies triggers and the negative thoughts that come with them, the therapist provides tools and techniques to deal with them. The goal is to equip the patient with skills to deal with the stress of day-to-day life after a traumatic incident.
- Identifying Changes in Beliefs. After trauma, many people find they feel like a different person. That kind of unexpected change led to a type of mourning for a past life when things were easier. Furthermore, those with PTSD often change their beliefs in trust, safety, control, and the concept of finality. In CPT, the patient expresses how their beliefs changed while the therapist helps reconcile unhelpful thoughts. The goal is to balance the beliefs the patient had both before and after the trauma.
Are you seeking PTSD treatment?
You deserve care after trauma. Call the professional therapists at Gateway Counseling today at 561-332-1818.