7 Trauma Therapy Methods For PTSD

If you or someone close to you is going through post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), then know that trauma therapy is available. Learn about the options today.
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In this article:

  1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  2. Prolonged Exposure Therapy
  3. Mindfulness Behavior for Stress Reduction (MBSR)
  4. Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)
  5. Stress Management
  6. Watchful Waiting
  7. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

7 Trauma Therapy Options for Anyone with PTSD

What Is PTSD? It stands for post-traumatic stress disorder. It is a mental health condition that happens to individuals who experienced a terrifying event.

1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

One of the most popular trauma therapy options is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Its basic principle is the mind can affect your emotions, behavior, and habit.
Here’s an example. A child who grew up with bullies might feel inadequate or insecure. He may feel he doesn’t have the skills or talents to stand against or rise above his peers.
It then manifests in his emotions. Perhaps he may feel depressed or anxious being surrounded by co-workers.
These emotions can then impact his behavior, such as bypassing possible promotions or lashing out on his family members because of his supposed failures.
The purpose of this trauma-informed therapy is to understand the triggers and the root cause, as well as how they affect your emotions and behaviors. Then your therapist helps you change your mindset, so you can start altering your behavior for the better.
CBT is usually a short course, running only a few weeks. It also requires active engagement from you, and you need to do the techniques to see results.

2. Prolonged Exposure Therapy

psychologist and patient discussing | Trauma Therapy Methods For PTSD | trauma therapy | trauma-focused therapy
Prolonged exposure therapy is a type of CBT that deals with confronting the triggers or even the source of the trauma. It usually lasts for about nine to 15 sessions, each lasting for 90 minutes.
Only a therapist can tell whether the traumatized person is ready for this trauma therapy since it is highly anxiety-inducing. The professional may have to perform a thorough assessment first, or they may have to go through talk therapy for a while.
This CBT has two techniques:

  • In vivo exposure
  • Imaginal

In imaginal exposure, the person has to relay the entire experience in the present tense, as if they’re reliving their terrible experience. The role of the therapist is to guide the individual, especially in processing their emotions and behaviors.
In in vivo exposure, the person has to face their triggers, which may include places, objects, or people. The process is gradual, but the ultimate goal is to remove the fear associated with these stimuli.

3. Mindfulness Behavior for Stress Reduction (MBSR)

Also known as MBSR, it is a modality developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn in the 1970s. It was primarily for patients who no longer responded to treatment, but eventually, it developed into trauma therapy.
In a 2017 study, MBSR proved to be an effective and safe treatment for veterans suffering from PTSD for at least six months.
How does it work? It is similar to meditation since it encourages being aware of the present moment, but this one has a goal.
Its purpose is to reduce your response to stress as it can only further excite your nervous system. You will feel more stress and pain from the trauma.
It acknowledges the idea a person can change their perception of the trauma and have control over their triggers and fears. For anyone with PTSD, this is empowering.
It turns out too that this PTSD treatment can change the regions of the brain related to the disorder. In the process, the effects can truly be long-term.

4. Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)

Some people go through different counseling sessions and therapies, but they never fully recover. One of the reasons is they have stuck points.
Stuck points refer to the difference between a person’s view before and after a traumatic episode.
For example, a battered wife might have thought all men are gentlemen before marriage. After the divorce, she might no longer trust men anymore, or she might find herself in shallow relationships.
In the process, she never got past the symptoms of PTSD, which include reckless behavior or overwhelming anxiety and fear of the trigger or cause.
CPT, a trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, lets you confront or challenge these negative ideas and beliefs. In turn, you develop skills that help you cope with the triggers.
During the sessions, the therapist may ask you to write your traumatic experience in great detail. You then have to read this over and over even during after sessions.
Then, together, you identify your stuck points and plan ways to overcome them.
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5. Stress Management

two female doing yoga | Trauma Therapy Methods For PTSD | trauma therapy | trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy
PTSD, no matter how mild, can bring about high levels of stress. Stress, meanwhile, can lead to different health issues:

  • It can affect your gut and the way your immune system works.
  • It increases your risks for depression and anxiety.
  • Stress can decrease your quality of life.
  • It may even boost your chances of premature death.

Besides the other recognized trauma therapy options, the therapist, counselor, or even your doctor may provide you with stress management techniques such as the following:

  • Deep breathing to help relax the muscles and release the tension
  • Yoga to calm the mind and exercise the body
  • Meditation audio tracks, which can reduce your anxiety or boost concentration and focus
  • Clean and healthy diet to boost the immune system and reduce digestive symptoms and illnesses (e.g., Alkalizing Greens for detox and metabolism)
  • Art therapy
  • Aromatherapy using essential oils
  • Sleep (if you have insomnia, you can take Relax & Unwind to normalize sleeping patterns)

Note that these stress management techniques do not treat PTSD, but they help you cope even better on a day-to-day basis.

6. Watchful Waiting

In some cases, the therapist may do watchful waiting as a form of trauma therapy. It is ideal for individuals who experienced mild trauma or PTSD.
It can last for 24 to 72 hours, wherein the therapist monitors you for any symptoms of PTSD. They may also introduce coping mechanisms, so the impact of these signs on your mental health decrease.

7. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Another trauma-focused therapy is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). One of its primary objectives is to get rid of the stumbling blocks to your complete healing, which are the memory and the emotions attached to it.
Many experiences become long-term memories, and these can include your traumatic experience. When this happens, the episodes, even bits of them, can become intrusive.
Every intrusion can then bring the same intensity and kind of negative emotion such as fear, anxiety, and horror.
In hindsight, EMDR is a trauma therapy that brings this long-term memory into a short-term one. You do that by retelling the trigger or the source of your trauma, especially the emotions and body sensations associated with it.
Then, the therapist shows you two fingers, which they move sideways or back and forth in front of you. You need to follow these movements while trying to keep the memory of your trauma in your mind.
This technique should overload the brain with information that the emotions attached to the trauma gradually disappear.
Some studies revealed the effectiveness of EMDR in treating PTSD. In one conducted by Kaiser Permanente, 100% of single-trauma patients, and more than 75% of multiple-trauma individuals no longer experienced PTSD symptoms after six EMDR sessions lasting 50 minutes each.
When you have gone through something horrific, know that you don’t need to suffer it alone. You can get help from professionals who can provide you with the right trauma therapy.
If you experienced traumatic pain before, how do you deal with it now? Share your tips in the comments section below.
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