Traumatic events can have a long-term impact on our health and well-being. Following a traumatic event, you may or may not develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Post-traumatic stress disorder is a complex condition and therapy can take a long time. However, healing is possible.
Trauma therapy and counselling for PTSD can help manage emotional, psychological and physical symptoms related to trauma and start healing.
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What is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a complex emotional, cognitive and physical reaction to a horrific event that a person experiences directly or indirectly. Fear as a reaction to trauma occurs as a component of the body’s “fight, flight or freeze” response, which allows us to cope with stress.
Post-traumatic stress disorder may be diagnosed if you have survived a trauma and experience symptoms such as anxiety, fear, sadness, nightmares, sleep problems, flashbacks, difficulty focusing and impulsive or self-destructive behaviour.
What Causes PTSD?
Factors that commonly cause PTSD include being exposed to dangerous events, experiencing a threat, bullying, witnessing the suffering and death of others, or dealing with the aftermath of the tragic death of a loved one.
The most common traumatic events that can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder involve:
- Physical abuse in childhood
- Violence and sexual assault
- A vehicle accident
- A terrorist attack or combat
- A potentially fatal medical diagnosis
- Natural catastrophe
- Being shamed
Studies and Statistics
Research shows that PTSD impacts the brain, causing hyperactivation of some brain areas while other regions become hypoactive.
The brain doesn’t forget what it thought was dangerous and can’t tell the difference between real and imagined dangers. So, when something reminds you of a traumatic event, even if it happened years ago, your PTSD symptoms may come back.
According to PTSD UK, 1 in 10 UK residents will likely experience PTSD at some point. According to some estimates, 50–70 per cent of people will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. While the majority of people who survive trauma do not get PTSD, 20 per cent of those who are exposed to traumatic situations may develop PTSD.
Women aged 16 to 24 are the most likely to get PTSD, whereas one in every 13 children and adolescents in the UK will have PTSD at some stage during their upbringing.
PTSD Related Issues
While anxiety and depression symptoms are significant components of post-traumatic stress disorder, other issues are also related to PTSD. For example, people with PTSD frequently re-experience trauma through flashbacks and nightmares, have negative thoughts, have trouble sleeping and focusing, and show impulsive or self-destructive behaviour.
Trauma therapy and counselling for PTSD seek to alleviate symptoms, teach coping skills and restore self-esteem in trauma survivors.
The most common therapy approaches to PTSD involve the following:
EMDR stands for “eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing”, a therapy approach to PTSD that focuses on the upsetting feelings and thoughts that come from it, instead of the traumatic event itself. An EMDR therapist uses two-sided stimulation to assist people who have PTSD and other mental health issues in overcoming emotional distress.
David Grand, PhD, created Brainspotting as a focused therapy process that focuses on the neurophysiological foundations of trauma and its numerous manifestations, such as emotional and/or physical pain, dissociation, and other symptoms that are typically out of the clients’ consciousness.
Emotional Freedom Techniques or EFT (also known as “tapping”) is a form of psychotherapy that stimulates acupressure points while focusing on trauma-related memories and feelings.
In an EFT session, your therapist will tap on points on your face and body while you are focusing on a feeling or a memory linked to a traumatic experience.
Karl Dawson created matrix reimprinting in 2010 based on EFT to help people connect with their traumatic experiences and core beliefs and change them into stable foundations for their lives.
Somatic Experiencing by Peter-Levine
Developed by Peter Levine, somatic experiencing focuses on the bodily reactions to trauma, teaching you how to release built-up energy while safely removing the trigger.
The goal is to help you get rid of trauma-related energy in your body while making you more aware of trauma symptoms.
Trauma therapy at the Leone Centre
At the Leone Centre, trauma treatment and psychotherapy for PTSD aim to help clients:
- Identify and alleviate PTSD symptoms
- Work through painful emotions
- Identify and overcome negative thinking patterns
- Develop coping skills