CBT for post traumatic stress disorder
What is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a serious disorder that follows experiencing or witnessing an extremely traumatic, tragic, or terrifying event such as; a violent or sexual assault, a terrorist attack, a transport accident, witnessing a violent death, being in a fire.
The onset of PTSD can happen immediately after an event, or many years later. The main symptoms are:
- Repeatedly re-living the trauma in the form of nightmares and disturbing recollections during the day. These may come and go. You may be free of them for weeks at a time, and then experience them daily for no particular reason
- Not wanting to think or talk about what has happened
- Feeling unsafe
- Problems with sleeping, depression, feeling detached or numb, or being easily startled
- Losing interest in things you used to enjoy, and have trouble feeling affectionate
- Feeling irritable, more aggressive than before, or even violent
- Seeing things that remind you of the incident may be very distressing, which could lead you to avoid certain places or situations that bring back those memories.
PTSD can occur at any age, including childhood. The disorder can be accompanied by depression, substance abuse, or anxiety.
I have experience of treating PTSD with CBT both in the NHS and charity sector.
Some of the aims of Trauma Focused-CBT are:
- Helping you understand how your PTSD symptoms have developed
- Gradually confronting situations which have been previously avoided until the anxiety subsides
- Gradually dealing with your memories of the trauma until there is a significant reduction in anxiety and other related symptoms
- Challenging unhelpful thoughts and beliefs which you have about yourself and others who may have been involved in the traumatic event
- Learning relaxation and confidence-building techniques to reduce the physical symptoms of PTSD
- Using CBT to treat the related symptoms of anxiety and depression