Traumatic Stress (PTSD)
At Psychotherapy Kingston, I use a structured approach to treating trauma using CBT and EMDR (see Supporting Therapies).
Traumatic stress or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) usually occurs following a traumatic incident, or a series of less severe incidents. Complex PTSD can be experienced as a result of repeated childhood traumas.
Most people will experience stress after a trauma, but the symptoms normally diminish after several weeks. If the symptoms persist, then trauma-focused CBT or EMDR are currently recommended as the treatments of choice.
Flashbacks (traumatic re-living of the event, including images, sounds, emotions and physical sensations) and nightmares are common symptoms. There is often severe anxiety and/or angry reactions or avoidance of triggers that may remind the individual of the incident in some way.
Often the incident is so overwhelming that the brain doesn't process the experience into a normal memory, so the experience stays as a current problem instead of a memory of a past event. Each time there is a pattern match in the present with the original event, a 'flashback' may occur and we experience the trauma again, as though it is happening right now.
CBT for PTSD
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and EMDR, help the brain to process the traumatic event into a memory. It is as if the process enables the incident to be filed away in the appropriate filing cabinet of our mind. It then becomes a past event, rather than a reliving of the trauma as if it is happening right now.
Rachael Beeton, New Zealand Earthquake