People who have gone through traumatic events may experience some mental and emotional disturbances. They may not be able to perceive things positively and live life as they did before.
There might be flashbacks, anxieties, and fears that may continue to affect their ability to function daily, which are common signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
This psychological and physiological condition can affect people from different backgrounds. Fortunately, psychotherapy interventions can help. The therapies discussed below have an extensive evidence base and are trauma-focused, which means they directly address memories of the traumatic event.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
This therapy focuses on an individual’s feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Cognitive behavioral therapy targets current problems and symptoms and concentrates on changing behaviors, ideas, and feelings that may cause difficulties in functioning.
Cognitive behavioral therapists encourage people with PTSD to reassess their thinking patterns and assumptions. Such an assessment helps determine unhealthy mental patterns or distortions, like overgeneralizing bad outcomes and always expecting catastrophic situations.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is intended to help the person reconceptualize their perception of traumatic experiences to improve their coping ability and establish balanced and effective thinking patterns.
Therapists use prolonged exposure to teach patients to approach their trauma-related feelings, memories, and situations gradually. In the process, they learn that those triggers are not dangerous and do not need to be suppressed or avoided.
Psychoeducation can be very anxiety-provoking for most patients. Still, therapists ensure that the process is perceived as a safe space for acknowledging terrifying stimuli.
Prolonged exposure therapy can last for about three months, including weekly individual sessions.
Brief Eclectic Psychotherapy
Brief eclectic psychotherapy involves combining cognitive behavioral therapy and the psychodynamic technique. The process focuses on changing the emotions of guilt and shame and emphasizes the relationship between the patient and therapist.
The treatment consists of 16 individual sessions, each with specific objectives, and could last 45 minutes to one hour. This psychological intervention is meant for people who have encountered a single traumatic event.
Narrative Exposure Therapy
Through this therapy type, patients can establish a coherent life narrative in which to contextualize traumatic events. This option is commonly used to treat trauma disorders, especially for individuals going through complex and multiple traumas due to cultural, political, or social factors.
Narrative exposure therapy is believed to contextualize the network of affective, cognitive, and sensory memories of a patient’s trauma. Narrative expressions can have a coherent autobiographical story that leads to a clearer understanding of the traumatic episode.
The technique combines temperature biofeedback, systematic desensitization, guided imagery, rhythmic breathing, constructed visualizations, and autogenic training.
In one study, this form of therapy was found effective among Vietnam war veterans whose PTSD improved for 30 months after the treatment.
Why Consulting a Therapist Is a Must
People may struggle with posttraumatic stress disorder for a long time without effective intervention. It is not just beneficial but important for these individuals to seek professional help from therapists. Through therapy, including the approaches mentioned above and other treatment methods like eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and cognitive processing therapy (CPT), those who suffer with PTSD can learn to manage their symptoms, address their trauma, and live a happier life again.
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