Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Counseling & Therapy Overview
What Is PTSD?
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can occur following the direct experience or witnessing of life-threatening events, such as military combat, serious accidents, and exposure to violence or physical or sexual assault. Those who serve as first responders are also often effected. People of all ages can experience PTSD. It is very common for PTSD to be accompanied by depression, anxiety, or substance abuse. PTSD can disrupt your entire life: work, relationships, physical health, and your ability to function and maintain a balanced mood.
PTSD affects each person differently, though most people experience some combination of the following symptoms:
- Severe anxiety
- Trouble sleeping
- Trouble concentrating
- Intrusive memories (uncontrollable thoughts about the event).
- Severe emotional distress
- Avoidance of people, places, and things that remind you of the event.
- Monopolized by negative thoughts and fears
- Flight or Fight mentality (being on guard for danger)
- Irritability, angry outbursts, or aggressive behavior
Growth thru Change incorporates various trauma-focused psychotherapies for the treatment of PTSD.
- Prolonged Exposure (PE) People with PTSD often try to avoid anything that reminds them of the trauma. Avoiding or “pushing down” unresolved emotions keeps you from processing and dealing with the trauma. The goal of PE is to support you in confronting the emotional content attached to the trauma. By talking about and, in some cases, relieving the details surrounding the event you can become desensitized to the trauma. This repetitive desensitization decreases symptoms and allows you to regain control of your behavior, thoughts, and fears.
- Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT). Trauma changes the way you view yourself and the world around you. Following trauma, it is only natural to resort to fear-based thinking — a sense that the world is dangerous and that you are unsafe. CPT provides psycho-education around reframing negative cognitions about the traumatic experience through writing assignments and interactive lessons. The goal is to work through underlying emotions such as anger, guilt, hate, sadness, and fear. The long-term goal is to gain insights into how this fear-based perspective has affected your sense of safety, trust, control, self-esteem, and intimacy as you work to adapt a new more open and trusting perspective.
- Group therapy offers you the opportunity to be with peers who can relate to shared experiences. The group supports you through the challenges of life transitions, family and relationship dynamics, employment stress, self-esteem, and goal achievement. The encouragement and support of other group members creates a safe space in which mutual trust and safety begin to take form.
Helping Someone with PTSD
If someone you love is experiencing symptoms of PTSD, the first step is to begin an open dialogue around your concerns. It’s important he or she knows you care. Provide resources for your loved one. Seeking local support groups, a psychiatrist, and a therapist is critical for providing well-rounded support during this difficult time. Need more information or guidance? Call us today at (215) 337-3993.
Suicide Warning Signs
When someone is struggling with PTSD, suicide is a real danger. It’s important to know the warning signs:
- Talking about suicide, dying, or harming yourself; a preoccupation with death
- Expressing feelings of hopelessness or self-hate
- Acting in dangerous or self-destructive ways
- Getting affairs in order and saying goodbye
- Seeking out pills, weapons, or other lethal objects
If these signs have become apparent in yourself or your loved one, immediately go to your nearest crisis center or emergency room or call 9-1-1. For additional support, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800- 273-8255.
Need more information or guidance? Call us today at (215) 337-3993.