Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
What is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder?
Therapists who treat posttraumatic stress disorder have an important saying: “PTSD isn’t about what’s wrong with you, it’s about what happened to you.” Accordingly, treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder focuses on helping people adapt to the traumatic events that happen to them and thrive.
Exposure to trauma impacts our bodies, thoughts, feelings, and actions. After a traumatic event, we may have trouble sleeping, relaxing, and concentrating, and we may feel tense or on guard most of the time. We may also feel frightened, guilty, irritable, or angry in situations that don’t seem to warrant those feelings. We can come to think of the world and others as being dangerous or untrustworthy. We may try to avoid places, people, or thoughts that remind us of what happened. While most people experience some or all of these symptoms immediately after experiencing a traumatic event, people with PTSD have these symptoms long after the danger is over.
Practitioners think of two kinds of PTSD. Most typically, we think about the PTSD that results from exposure to accidents, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, or sexual and physical assault by strangers. The second kind of PTSD is called complex PTSD, and happens when people close to us cause the trauma, or the trauma is prolonged. Examples of events that cause Complex PTSD are childhood abuse (physical, sexual, or emotional), neglect, war, and domestic violence. In addition to the symptoms listed above, people exposed to complex trauma may have problems managing their emotions and having healthy and satisfying relationships.
Can medication help with PTSD symptoms?
Drugs by themselves are usually not enough for treating PTSD. However, they can be helpful for some people when combined with therapy. Your physician or a psychiatrist can suggest which medication might be best for you.
Evidence Based Treatments for PTSD:
Therapists at AICT are skilled at working with both PTSD and complex PTSD and use proven treatments. Many of our clinicians have worked with military veterans, surivivors of sexual and physical assault, survivors of childhood sexual abuse, physical abuse, and neglect, and survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The evidence-based treatments we use are:
- Prolonged exposure (PE)
- Cognitive-processing therapy (CPT)
- Phased exposure treatments such as STAIR/NT for adolescents and adults
- Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) for children and adolescents
All of these treatments help trauma survivors gain control over their reactions to trauma reminders.
Clients learn to cope with uncomfortable bodily sensations, emotions, and thoughts. In addition, they learn to make sense of what happened to them and to move forward with their lives.
Anxiety Free: Unravel Your Fears Before They Unravel You by Robert L. Leahy
The Worry Cure: Seven Steps to Stop Worry from Stopping You by Robert L. Leahy
Clinicians may find the following books on cognitive behavioral therapy to be helpful in treating anxiety:
Leahy, R. L., Holland, S. J., & McGinn, L. K. – Treatment Plans and Interventions for Depression and Anxiety Disorders (2nd ed.)
Leahy, R. L. – Cognitive Therapy Techniques
Sookman, D. and Leahy, R. L. – Treatment Resistant Anxiety Disorders: Resolving Impasses to Symptom Remission
Sample Chapters from Guilford Press
- Assessing Psychological Trauma and PTSD, Second Edition Edited by John P. Wilson and Terence M. Keane
- Clinical Work with Traumatized Young Children Edited by Joy D. Osofsky
- Clinician’s Guide to PTSD: A Cognitive-Behavioral Approach by Steven Taylor
- Cognitive-Behavioral Conjoint Therapy for PTSD Harnessing the Healing Power of Relationships by Candice M. Monson and Steffany J. Fredman
- Cognitive-Behavioral Strategies in Crisis Intervention, Third Edition Edited by Frank M. Dattilio and Arthur Freeman
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies for Trauma, Second Edition Edited by Victoria M. Follette and Josef I. Ruzek
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for PTSD: A Case Formulation Approach by Claudia Zayfert and Carolyn Black Becker
- Collaborative Treatment of Traumatized Children and Teens: The Trauma Systems Therapy Approach by Glenn N. Saxe, B. Heidi Ellis, and Julie B. Kaplow
- Early Intervention for Trauma and Traumatic Loss Edited by Brett T. Litz
- Effective Treatments for PTSD: Practice Guidelines from the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, Second Ed. Edited by Edna B. Foa, Terence M. Keane, Matthew J. Friedman, and Judith A. Cohen
- Gender and PTSD Edited by Rachel Kimerling, Paige Ouimette, and Jessica Wolfe
- Handbook of PTSD: Science and Practice Edited by Matthew J. Friedman, Terence M. Keane, and Patricia A. Resick
- Helping Abused and Traumatized Children: Integrating Directive and Nondirective Approaches by Eliana Gil
- Life After Trauma: A Workbook for Healing, Second Edition by Dena Rosenbloom and Mary Beth Williams with Barbara E. Watkins
- Psychotherapy with Infants and Young Children: Repairing the Effects of Stress and Trauma on Early Attachment by Alicia F. Lieberman and Patricia Van Horn
- Treating Complex Traumatic Stress Disorders: An Evidence-Based Guide Edited by Christine A. Courtois and Julian D. Ford
- Treating PTSD in Military Personnel: A Clinical Handbook Edited by Bret A. Moore and Walter E. Penk
- Treating Psychological Trauma and PTSD Edited by John P. Wilson, Matthew J. Friedman, and Jacob D. Lindy
- Treating Survivors of Childhood Abuse: Psychotherapy for the Interrupted Life by Marylene Cloitre, Lisa R. Cohen, and Karestan C. Koenen
- Treating Trauma and Traumatic Grief in Children and Adolescents by Judith A. Cohen, Anthony P. Mannarino, and Esther Deblinger.
- When Someone You Love Suffers from Posttraumatic Stress: What to Expect and What You Can Do by Claudia Zayfert and Jason C. DeViva
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