What can be done to help treat trauma and PTSD?

What can be done to help treat trauma and PTSD? Depending on your symptoms and the severity of them, medication may be helpful in reducing their intensity, and can be prescribed by a psychiatrist or a medical doctor skilled in assessing and treating mental health concerns.  What about trauma therapy, and what does that look like? First off, because everyone’s symptoms and experiences are different, the ways to treat concerns need to be tailored person to person.  With that being said, there are general treatment strategies and approaches that have been demonstrated to be strongly effective in treating trauma and PTSD, including Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) 1. CBT has been found to be as beneficial, if not more, than other forms of therapy or medication alone 1.

CBT looks at the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviours and seeks to change these areas to alleviate symptoms and concerns 1.  In the context of trauma and PTSD, as one example, we may look at your thought patterns and beliefs as you may frequently have an expectation that the worst will happen, or engage in consistently negative thinking, both of which may be reinforcing your symptoms 1.  By examining these areas closer and implementing changes, the goal would be to move from a state of constant fight/flight/freeze into a more neutral state 1.

Before diving into any of this work, one thing we may focus on in initial sessions is how to contain and manage symptoms which could arise during the course of a therapy session.   If you are constantly on alert, on edge, or dissociate when your triggers are activated, it is difficult to remain in the present or engage in interventions, quite understandably so.  We may do this by working through some strategies to ground yourself and focus on the present as well as recognizing when your symptoms begin to increase. The aim is to employ a grounding strategy when you first notice symptoms, thereby avoiding going full on into a fight/flight/freeze state.  We may discuss numerous strategies, so you have more tools at your disposal, and walk through them together, plus encourage you to practice them on your own in between sessions, so they become more familiar to you and therefore more accessible if you are in an elevated state.

Please know that what you are experiencing is a reaction to a really difficult event or multiple events.  Having a trauma response does not make you weak, flawed, or any other negative adjective you may be using to think of and describe yourself. In my work thus far, I have had many patients struggling with trauma and PTSD think of themselves in these terms, and it is simply untrue.  It also does not make you weak to ask for help if you are struggling.

If you are seeking assistance and wish to book an appointment to discuss this further, please contact our office at (780) 862-3111.  We are happy to help!

1 American Psychological Association. (2017, July 31). Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for treatment of PTSD. American Psychological Association. Retrieved March 31, 2022, from https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/treatments/cognitive-behavioral-therapy

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