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Therapy for PTSD

Have you experienced a traumatic event? Are you suffering from lingering fear and anxiety? Do you feel like you no longer have any control over how you think, feel, and behave?

Posttraumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD, is a mental health challenge that may occur in individuals who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, such as physical or sexual assaults, violence, or accidents. 

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

Not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will develop PTSD. If the symptoms last longer than 4 weeks, cause you great distress, or interfere with your home or work life, you may have PTSD. PTSD symptoms usually start soon after the traumatic event, but they may not appear until months or years later. There are 4 categories of PTSD symtoms:

Re-experiencing symtoms

These are also known as reliving symptoms. Reliving the event often occurs after a trauma. You may have nightmares or flashbacks. You may have distress when you see, hear, or smell something that reminds you of the event (triggers).


This involves efforts to avoid trauma-related thoughts, feelings or conversations, as well as efforts to avoid activities, places, or people that remind you of the trauma.

Negative thoughts and feelings

The way that you think about yourself and others may become more negative because of the trauma. Two common negative beliefs associated with PTSD are "I'm incompetent" and "the world is extremely dangerous."  For example, you may ruminate about the trauma or the aftermath of it. You may think the world is completely dangerous. You may feel guilt or shame about the event, or believe that you are unworthy or incompetent somehow. You may feel numb, forget about parts of the event, or not be able to talk about it. People with PTSD often feel intense emotions such as fear, anger, sadness, and detachment from friends, family, and community members. 

Increased arousal

You may experience "hyperarousal" where you feel jittery or always on the lookout for danger. You may have a hard time sleeping, find it hard to concentrate, or be easily startled. 

What are the evidence-based psychotherapies for PTSD? 

It is the job of an expert in trauma and PTSD to work with you to determine the most helpful approach that is tailored to your needs. For adults these are some of the evidence-based psychotherapies for PTSD:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Specifcally, a type of CBT called "Prolonged Exposure," or "PE." This form of therapy involves teaching skills of relaxation and coping, and then gradually using exposure techniques to the source of fear, until you are not afraid of it anymore.

Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR

This form of therapy involves using rhythmic left-right (bilateral) stimulation to help process and release memories, body sensations, beliefs, and emotions that been blocked by trauma.

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)

This form of therapy involves challenging and modifying the unhelpful thoughts and beliefs that have developed as a result of the trauma.

Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS)

This form of therapy involves recognizing how different parts of our "self systems" have developed as a response to trauma. These parts include the "exiled" or wounded parts, and the "protector" parts that have developed to keep us safe. The goal is to recognize and appreciate the role these parts play in our self systems, and to nourish our true selves. 

The goals of a PTSD therapist are to help a client process traumatic memories in a safe and caring therapeutic environment, to feel decreased emotional charge from memories and triggers of the traumatic event, and a return to a place of hope and freedom in their lives. Working through PTSD can be challenging, but can also be a pathway to posttraumatic growth, a time of new found resiliency and strength. 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 transformation through therapy and want to offer the help you need to enjoy life again.