Treating Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be complex and there are a lot of different treatment approaches for treating PTSD. However, not all therapies for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder work or are particularly effective. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has widely been viewed as the most effective form of therapy for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and there is a lot of research to support its standing as the gold standard of treatment for PTSD. In this video, I discuss some of the components of cognitive behavioral therapy for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and how these CBT skills work to help address PTSD symptoms.
Cognitive behavioral therapy for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder should include the following components for effective treatment of PTSD:
1) Prolonged imaginal exposure. This requires the person with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder to write out a detailed script of their trauma memory and review the PTSD script repeatedly to drain the emotional distress from the trauma memory. By doing this, the PTSD memory is less distressing to thing about and the person does not have to try to supress the PTSD memories, which is one of the factors that tends to maintain Posttraumatic Stress Disorder symptoms.
2) Challenging “stuck points” or faulty assumptions stemming from the PTSD incident. Traumatic events can change the way we think about ourselves, other people and the world more generally. These changes can lead to people with PTSD: a) viewing themselves as broken, flawed or more vulnerable; b) viewing others as untrustworthy; and c) viewing the world as a more dangerous or threatening place. Cognitive behavioral therapy aims at identifying and challenging some of these faulty assumptions and beliefs stemming from the PTSD events.
3) Behavioral exposure to situations, places and activities that people with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder avoid. Behavioral avoidance is a major factor that maintains distress and interference for people with PTSD and so CBT treatment focuses on gradual exposures to situations, places and activities that a person with PTSD is avoiding. In doing so, it reduces anxiety and distress in these situations and limits how much Posttraumatic Stress Disorder interferes in a person’s life.
Cognitive behavioral therapy for PTSD is not easy, but it can be the most effective form of therapy for someone suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, if they are able to do the work of therapy.
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For more information about the North Shore Stress and Anxiety Clinic, visit: http://www.nssac.ca
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