Cognitive Therapy As Treatment For PTSD
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, can occur after someone experiences or witnesses a traumatic event such as physical or sexual abuse, assault, serious accidents or natural disasters, or perhaps combat. According to the U.S Department of Veteran’s Affairs, approximately 7-8% of the U.S. population will experience some form of PTSD within their lives.
While PTSD is certainly not enjoyable and can be a quite debilitating affliction, the positive news is that it can be effectively treated. The 2 most common recommendations are prescription drugs or psychotherapy treatments and sometimes both may be recommended to be utilized together. However, studies show that proper psychotherapy treatments, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) tend to be some of the most effective treatments for PTSD.
What is CBT?
CBT typically involves meeting with a trained therapist weekly for up to four months. The two most effective types of cognitive-behavioral therapy for PTSD are Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) and Prolonged Exposure (PE).
Cognitive Processing Therapy will include a therapist helping a patient to examine what they are thinking and telling themselves about the trauma. Together they analyze whether those thoughts are or are not accurate and begin to help make sense of specific traumas. This can be done individually or in a group.
Prolonged Exposure Therapy works through intentional repeated exposure to the thoughts, feelings, or situations that the patient typically avoids due to heightened stress around those elements. This is done to help the patient learn that reminders of the trauma do not have to be avoided. PE is done individually with a therapist. Both treatments are effective cognitive therapy for PTSD.
Common Steps of Cognitive Behavioral Treatment
CBT will typically include the following steps:
- Identify troubling situations or occurrences in one’s life. These may include such issues as the experiencing of severe grief, or anger, which could come from things such as divorce, or other physical or mental health disorder.
- Awareness of the thoughts, emotions, or beliefs around these problems. Once you’ve identified the problems to focus on, your therapist will encourage you to explore them in-depth. This could include your internal dialogue or what you tell yourself about these experiences, and your associated response. Your therapist may suggest that you keep a journal of these thoughts and responses.
- Identify negative or harmful thinking. To help you recognize patterns of negative thinking and behavior, you should also be aware of your physical, emotional, and behavioral responses in different situations. Identifying responses will often be helpful in recognizing stresses or triggers that need to be addressed.
- Reshape harmful negative thinking. A key piece to this process will be to ask yourself whether your view of a situation is based on fact or inaccurate perception of what’s going on. This step can be difficult but is often the most valuable. This is where you may discover unknown, yet long-standing ways of thinking about your life and yourself. With guidance, turning this into an opportunity to change the internal dialogue and create helpful patterns will eventually become a habit and begin to reduce negative responses.
Cognitive therapy for PTSD may not cure your condition by making unpleasant feelings and thoughts immediately go away. Therapy is designed to give you tools and strategies for better managing stresses when or ideally before they occur. An effective treatment series should lead you to be empowered to cope with a situation in a healthy way and to feel better about yourself and your life. For more information on CBT visit Intensive Therapy Retreats today.