The Process of PTSD Therapy

The Mayo Clinic explains that post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, can arise in anyone who is having a difficult time adjusting back to daily life in the aftermath of a traumatic situation or incident. Symptoms of PTSD could appear within a month following a traumatic event, or may not appear until years afterwards. Generally speaking, experts group symptoms related to PTSD into four major types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions.

Symptoms of intrusive memories might be:

  • Disturbing nightmares or dreams about the traumatic event
  • Experiencing recurrent, unwanted memories of the traumatic event that lead to feelings of distress
  • Undergoing severe physical reactions or emotional distress in response to something that is reminiscent of the traumatic event
  • Experiencing flashbacks in which the traumatic event is re-experienced

Symptoms associated with avoidance might involve:

  • An individual avoiding people, places, and activities that remind them of the traumatic event
  • Attempting to avoid discussing or even thinking about the traumatic event

Signs of negative changes in thinking and mood might include:

  • Experiencing negative thoughts about oneself, others, or the world at large
  • Difficulty keeping close relationships with others
  • Feeling detached from loved ones
  • Emotional numbness
  • Feeling hopeless about the future
  • A lack of interest in activities one once enjoyed
  • Having a hard time experiencing positive emotions
  • Experiencing memory issues, including forgetting essential aspects of the traumatic event

Signs of changes in physical and emotional reactions could include:

  • Constantly being on guard
  • Aggressive behaviors
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Self-destructive behavior, such as the overconsumption of alcohol
  • Being easily frightened or startled
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Experiencing overwhelming shame or guilt

And when it comes to the treatment of PTSD, the American Psychological Association strongly recommends four major types of interventions, with a goal of improving the quality of life for people living with symptoms of PTSD.  The four recommended therapeutic interventions are:

  1. Cognitive behavioral therapy: rooted in the relationship among your behaviors, thoughts, and feelings, cognitive behavioral therapy zeros in on current symptoms and issues. Furthermore, cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on helping you change your behavioral patterns, as well as other feelings and thoughts that could make it difficult for you to function.
  2. Cognitive therapy: born from cognitive behavioral therapy, cognitive therapy seeks to help you change the memories surrounding your trauma and the pessimistic evaluations you may associate with it. The underlying goal of cognitive therapy is to interrupt thought patterns and/or behaviors that disturb your ability to live your day to day life.
  3. Prolonged exposure: another type of cognitive behavioral therapy, prolonged exposure seeks to help you gradually approach your feelings, memories, and specific situations related to your trauma. The goal of prolonged exposure is to help you face things you have been avoiding in the hopes that you will learn that your associations with those situations, feelings, and memories are not dangerous; there is no need to avoid them.
  4. Cognitive processing therapy: also derived from cognitive behavioral therapy, cognitive processing therapy’s goal is to help you learn how to challenge and change maladaptive beliefs you may hold related to your trauma.

One way to seek assistance in dealing with PTSD symptoms is by enrolling in a therapy group; these have been proven to be very effective in helping individuals living with PTSD. Grouport offers online group therapy for PTSD and many other mental illnesses. Our online therapy program offers a safe way to seek therapy amidst the continued COVID-19 pandemic. Once you enroll in our program, you will receive an initial consultation with a trained professional and will then be matched with the appropriate therapy group. You can find a series of FAQs here.

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