Therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Trauma is something that most people will experience. Whether that involves a like a traumatic car accident or something like the loss of a loved one, trauma is unavoidable. Every person processes trauma differently, and sometimes, we can get stuck in a state of elevated response to trauma. When this happens, therapy can help people to heal and recover from trauma and address ongoing side effects of past trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder.
What Is PTSD?
Humans are complex and amazing beings. Our minds and bodies have evolved to keep us safe and healthy, and that includes the way we respond to traumatic experiences. The natural trauma response involves elevated heart rate, slower thinking, and other physiological changes that allow us to focus intensely on keeping ourselves safe. After the traumatic event, we should experience a rush of relief, but this doesn’t always happen when traumatic events don’t have an obvious resolution. Over time, unprocessed trauma response can get stuck in our bodies, leaving us in this heightened state of safety response, which can lead to numerous concerns and side effects, including:
- Recurring thoughts or reliving of a traumatic event
- Nightmares and daytime flashbacks of the event
- Emotional and/or physical distress when exposed to reminders of the event
- Avoiding thinking or talking about the event as well as avoiding reminders of the trauma
- Change in perception of self and the world
- Sense of helplessness or hopelessness
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering specific details
- Detachment from loved ones and feelings of isolation
This prolonged, heightened response to trauma may be post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Others with Similar Experiences Are Fine – Why Do I Have PTSD?
People often wonder why they have PTSD when others they know are fine. The answer is as complicated as our individual bodies. Think about the different ways that people respond to physical trauma. Some people develop bruises very easily. Others hardly ever bruise. Both bodies heal the physical trauma, but they do it differently. The same is true for the way our minds heal following traumatic events. The most important thing to remember is that, however your mind and body respond to trauma, you are working to heal yourself.
How Does Therapy Help with PTSD?
Therapy can be an important part of recovering from PTSD. There are a variety of different therapy approaches that have proven beneficial in relieving the symptoms of PTSD and helping individuals heal the underlying trauma response. At The Harmony Center for Change, our therapists often utilize Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). This approach to therapy helps people regulate emotions, modify behaviors, and achieve an increased sense of peace and stability in their day-to-day lives. For individuals who are struggling with PTSD, we will likely recommend a comprehensive DBT plan with the DBT-Prolonged Exposure (DBT-PE) protocol.
Comprehensive DBT involves individual and group DBT sessions, phone coaching outside of therapy sessions, and DBT therapist team meetings. A family therapy component may also be included.
The DBT-PE protocol was specifically developed to address symptoms of PTSD and complex trauma, and it is offered as part of the comprehensive DBT process. As the name implies, the DBT-PE protocol exposes individuals to avoided activities, spaces, or people in a safe environment with the goal increasing tolerance and resilience and decreasing the effects of these trauma triggers.
How Do I Get Started?
If you’re interested in learning more about therapy for PTSD at The Harmony Center for Change, please give our West Hartford practice a call, send a message, or schedule a 15-minute virtual consultation.