Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be a terrifying experience for the individual who suffers from it. Simultaneously, it can severely affect the friends and families of the individuals affected by it. PTSD symptoms affect Individuals who have been through life-threatening traumatic events and they start exhibiting some of the symptoms that characterise PTSD. It is pertinent that these individuals seek out best treatments for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, which may include medication and psychotherapy. If the right kind of treatment, proven by clinical tests, is adopted, the individuals will find relief and reduction in their PTSD symptoms and get control over their life.
Treatments For Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
There is no one best treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. The therapist selects the best course of treatment based on the patient’s symptoms, personality, cognitive capabilities and treatment goals. The treatment is usually initiated after the patient has approached their GP and seek treatment for their symptoms. The GP then refers them to a trained Clinical Psychologist for Psychological Evaluation and Treatment, as well as to a Psychiatrist, for medication.
Treatment Plan for PTSD Treatment
A Psychologist trained in treating patients with PTSD Symptoms usually tailors a personalised treatment plan after an initial couple of consultation sessions with a patient. The initial sessions are devoted to understanding the symptoms being experienced by the client, diagnosis of the severity of the symptoms and experience with previous treatments taken for the problem, including therapies such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. Along with assessment, SMART treatment goals are also set in these initial sessions.
Once assessment and goals have been set, a clinical psychologist we can choose from a number of psychotherapeutic techniques to decide the best treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder for the patient. They include:
- Grounding Techniques
- Arousal Reduction Techniques
- Trauma-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
- Imagery Rescripting
- Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)
- Mindful Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)
Psychotherapy Treatments for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Grounding techniques can be incredibly helpful in patients with PTSD symptoms. Grounding techniques are well covered in the blog Coping with Flashback and Dissociation in PTSD and is reproduced here.
As the name implies, grounding is a particular way of coping that is designed to “ground” you in the present moment. In doing so, you can retain your connection with the present moment and reduce the likelihood that you slip into a flashback or dissociation. In this way, grounding may be considered to be very similar to mindfulness.To ground, you want to use the five senses (sound, touch, smell, taste, and sight).
To connect with the here and now, do something that will bring all your attention to the present moment. A couple of grounding techniques are described below.
- Sound: Turn on loud music. Loud, jarring music will be hard to ignore. And as a result, your attention will be directed to that noise, bringing you into the present moment.
- Touch: Grip a piece of ice. If you notice that you are slipping into a flashback or a dissociative state, hold onto a piece of ice. It will be difficult to direct your attention away from the extreme coldness of the ice, forcing you to stay in touch with the present moment.
- Smell: Sniff some strong peppermint. When you smell something strong, it is very hard to focus on anything else. In this way, smelling peppermint can bring you into the present moment, slowing down or stopping altogether a flashback or an episode of dissociation.
- Taste: Bite into a lemon. The sourness of a lemon and the strong sensation it produces in your mouth when you bite into it can force you to stay in the present moment.
- Sight: Take an inventory of everything around you. Connect with the present moment by listing everything around you. Identify all the colors you see. Count all the pieces of furniture around you. List off all the noises you hear. Taking an inventory of your immediate environment can directly connect you with the present moment.
You can also try Grounding Exercises as given on Living Well Blog.
- Remind yourself of who you are now. Say your name. Say your age now. Say where you are now. Say what you have done today. Say what you will do next.
- “My name is ________, and I am 54 years old. I am in my living room, in my home, in Woolloongabba, in Brisbane, in Queensland. I woke up early today. I had a shower and fed my dog. I just finished my coffee and toast. Soon I am going to walk to the train station and go in to work. I am going to walk down ______ street and then turn left at the bike shop. Then I am going to….”
- Take ten slow breaths. Focus your attention fully on each breath, on the way in and on the way out. Say number of the breath to yourself as you exhale.
- If you wake during the night, remind yourself who you are, and where you are. Tell yourself who you are and where you are. What year is it, what age are you now? Look around the room and notice familiar objects and name them. Feel the bed you are lying on, the warmth or coolness of the air, and notice any sounds you hear.
Arousal Reduction Techniques
Through therapy session, you will be presented with a number of arousal reduction techniques or techniques that will help relieve the anxiety you begin to feel in certain situations. Some of these techniques can be simple breathing exercises, mindfulness practices and focusing techniques. A more detailed description of these techniques is given in the blog Arousal Regulation – Psychological Skills Training. Your therapist will help work with you to find the best arousal reduction technique to help you recover from your PTSD. Arousal Reduction has been found to be very useful in providing treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder.
Trauma Based CBT
As mentioned in TF-CBT Implementation Manual – Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) is a components-based psychosocial treatment model that incorporates elements of cognitive-behavioral, attachment, humanistic, empowerment, and family therapy models. It includes several core treatment components designed to be provided in a flexible manner to address the unique needs of each child and family
Through this therapy, individuals learn how their emotions, thoughts and action can add to the symptom of PTSD such as stress and anxiety. Individuals learn how to have better control over these stressors and to stay present in the moment instead of letting their anxiety and stress control the situation.
Check out this explainer video on TF-CBT.
Imagery Rescripting is a highly effective technique for many individuals who suffer from PTSD symptoms is using imagery rescripting. Through this patients are asked to work through the trauma using visualization. The traumatic occurrence is first addressed and then modified to rid the patient of feeling victimized. Through this, the individual not only works through the traumatic event but is also taught how to react differently in term of feeling and thoughts that revolve around the event.
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing. Unlike other therapies such as TF-CBT and DBT, EMDR is focused more on the distress felt while recalling the traumatic event. EMDR relies on bilateral stimulation, a pendulum like hand movement, to help a client to recollect the distressful emotions and physical symptoms experienced during the recall of traumatic event. As the client recalls these symptoms, the therapist helps the client to transition to more positive thoughts, thereby helping them to resolve the negative and distressing emotions associated with traumatic events. More and more studies are confirming the effectiveness of EMDR in treating symptoms of PTSD and Trauma, although scientists have still not been able to zero in to the exact reasons it works.
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is one of the recommended treatments for PTSD by APS. DBT provides four important skills to clients. They are mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation and interpersonal effectiveness.
Mindfulness, helps clients to accept and focus on the the present moment without judgement. Distress tolerance, increases the client’s tolerance of negative emotions without making attempts to run from it. Emotional regulation, provides strategies for managing and changing the intense emotions that are causing issues in their lives. Interpersonal effectiveness, equips clients with techniques to communicate with others in an assertive manner retaining their self-respect and helps to strengthen the bond in the relationship.
MBCT As One of the Treatments for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
As mentioned in Evidence Based Psychological Interventions, Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy is a group treatment that emphasises mindfulness meditation as the primary therapeutic technique. In MBCT, the emphasis is on changing the relationship to thoughts, rather than challenging them. Decentered thoughts are viewed as mental events that pass transiently through one’s consciousness, which may allow depressed individuals to decrease rumination and negative thinking.
MBCT gives quite good results among the range of treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a terrifying experience that can make individuals feel trapped and undergo a constant replay of the traumatic event or experience that have gone through. When they seek treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder from a Clinical Psychologist, they learn effective coping mechanism to relieve stress and anxiety but to also effectively address the fearful issues that is causing the PTSD. This therapy can be treated through a number of psychotherapeutic techniques as we discussed above and the psychologist works closely with the individuals to help them regain control of their thoughts, actions and reactions. The individuals are thus able to take control of their lives and return to normal lifestyle.
Our team of psychologists, are well equipped to provide treatment for PTSD. Don’t hesitate to reach out and make contact with us at the earliest.