Counseling for PTSD
When you have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dealing with the past can be hard. Instead of telling others how you feel, you may keep your feelings bottled up. But talking with a therapist can help you get better. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one type of counseling. It appears to be an effective type of PTSD Counseling. In CBT, a therapist helps you deal with your feelings about the past. You'll have weekly hour-long visits for a few weeks or months or as long as it takes for you to feel better. CBT may help you have fewer PTSD symptoms over time.
There are many types of CBT for PTSD. Examples include cognitive therapy, prolonged exposure therapy, and cognitive processing therapy.
What is cognitive therapy?
After a traumatic event, you might blame yourself for things you couldn't have changed. For example, a soldier may feel guilty about decisions he or she had to make during war. Cognitive therapy helps you understand that the traumatic event you lived through was not your fault. In cognitive therapy, your therapist helps you understand and change how you think about your trauma and its aftermath. Your goal is to understand how certain thoughts about your trauma cause you stress and make your symptoms worse. You will learn to identify thoughts about the world and yourself that are making you feel afraid or upset. With the help of your therapist, you will learn to replace these thoughts with more accurate and less distressing thoughts. You also learn ways to cope with feelings such as anger, guilt, and fear.
What is prolonged exposure therapy?
In prolonged exposure therapy, your goal is to have less fear about your memories. It is based on the idea that people learn to fear thoughts, feelings, and situations that remind them of a past traumatic event. By talking about your trauma repeatedly with a therapist, you'll learn to get control of your thoughts and feelings about the trauma. This is because each time you talk about the past, you become less scared and sensitive to the memories. This may be hard at first. It might seem strange to think about stressful things on purpose. But you'll feel less overwhelmed over time. With the help of your therapist, you can change how you react to the stressful memories. Talking in a place where you feel secure makes this easier.
You also may practice different ways to relax when you're having a stressful memory. Breathing exercises are sometimes used for this.
What is cognitive processing therapy?
A traumatic experience can change the way you see the world or the way you think about yourself. In cognitive processing therapy (CPT), your therapist will help you change thought patterns connected to your trauma. CPT involves cognitive therapy and writing exercises.
The main treatments for people with PTSD are specific short-term psychotherapies. These treatments are described below. Everyone is different, so a treatment that works for one person may not work for another. Some people may need to try different treatments to find what works best for their symptoms. Regardless of which option you chose, it is important to seek treatment from a mental health professional who is experienced with PTSD.