Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Treatment (PTSD) starts with analysis and diagnosis. The analysis session provides clients access to a safe and trusting environment with a therapist to initiate and engage in exploring the presenting symptoms. Once current mental and emotional functioning is assessed, each client engages in developing a historical life roadmap, family history, social functioning, detailed trauma history and onset.
PTSD treatment involves sessions engaging the client in conscious and unconscious, deep brain experiences stored in the Hippocampus and triggered by the “survival” part of the brain, also called the “Amygdala.” Trauma in the brain is like a tripwire connected directly to the Amygdala that release a flood of hormones preparing the body for “fight, flight or freeze”. Many times, the trigger response is unexplainable by the client but is an intense, emotional and physiological experience marked by nightmares, hyper vigilance, guilt, shame, mood swings, anxiety, rage, anger, dissociation, derealization, avoidance of certain places, people or things, thoughts of self harm, grief, sadness and emotional lability. Triggers can consist of small unconscious external stimuli. For example, a certain smell, song, place, color, or even a number can provoke feelings of uncontrollable emotional, mental and physical reactions. Individuals usually don’t realize what is happening until it is too late or they repress it by dissociating/disconnecting with their own bodies and the world around them.
PTSD must be treated by a Licensed Mental Health Professional over a series of consistent treatments in order to be effective. It can be overwhelming and frightening for a client to embark on a journey that evokes fear of pulling past memories and re-experiencing trauma. For most clients, the fear is typically already there anyway and manifests itself in the above mentioned list of symptoms, leaving the client to feel as though there is no end to the emotional pain.
PTSD can affect anyone and is common in public service fields where individuals are exposed to violence on a regular basis. The good news is, PTSD is the most treatable diagnosis in mental health and can bring long term symptom relief with as little as 4-6 sessions and a few follow-up sessions that are determined based on the complexity and severity of the trauma. I currently have 10 years military experience working with soldiers experiencing combat stress or combat related PTSD. I have also worked with first responders and other public services workers in successfully treating PTSD.
Check out the Brainspotting page for more information on this best practice treatment modality and how it can help you start seeing results.