Trauma is an emotional response to a horrifying event such as a natural disaster, an accident, death, physical or sexual assault, abuse or any other event that elicits fear and horror. Responses to traumatic events can vary. It is normal to feel strong emotions after experiencing a trauma such as shock and denial. For some people, the traumatic response can last months or years after the traumatic event itself. The wounds from the traumatic experience can bleed into the present and interfere with normal life. When this happens, it may be time to seek help to work through past trauma or traumas.
What are the Symptoms of PTSD?
For those who develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of their traumatic experience, they carry the additional burden of distressing and disabling symptoms such as nightmares, flashbacks, trying to avoid talking about or thinking about the trauma, worrying about the traumatic event happening again, being hyperaware of their surroundings, feeling jumpy or on edge, irritability, anger, or emotional detachment.
Individuals with PTSD often feel as if the traumatic event is still haunting them. Even though the trauma occurred in the past, reminders of the trauma continue to cause distress. They have a strong desire to free themselves from the memory of the trauma and move forward with their lives.
How Can Treatment Help?
There are two treatments for PTSD that have consistently outperformed other types of treatments in the research and are considered the “gold standard” treatments for PTSD.
- Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) – Trauma survivors often develop a number of beliefs about themselves, others and the world as a result of the trauma. These beliefs are called stuck points and they hinder people from moving forward after a traumatic event. In CPT, the therapist helps the client to reconcile and reframe these beliefs into thoughts that are more helpful. Clients report that after undergoing CPT they are able to once again have an optimistic view of their situation and their future. They feel free from the trauma and negative thoughts that accompanied the trauma.
- Prolonged Exposure (PE) – PE is a a form of therapy specifically designed to treat PTSD. The goal of therapy is to decrease the amount of distress and anxiety associated with the memory of the trauma through re-telling of the traumatic event and gradually confronting situations that are reminders of the trauma. The pace of treatment is determined collaboratively with the client and clinician. Prolonged exposure helps clients to feel empowered to take their life back again by letting go of the traumatic memory.
If you or a loved one suffer from PTSD and would like to explore treatment options, please reach out to me. I have personally seen amazing results through these treatments and want to offer the help you need to enjoy life again.