After a traumatic event it is normal to feel symptoms such as shock, anxiety, stress, upset and disconnection. However, if these symptoms don’t fade and your left with with ongoing anxiety and tainted memories, you may be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Counselling and psychotherapy can be highly effective in helping people manage and overcome the often debilitating symptoms caused by post-traumatic stress.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder caused by the experiencing or witnessing of a very stressful, frightening or traumatic event.
PTSD is estimated to affect about 1 in every 3 people who have had a traumatic experience. It can occur immediately or it can develop weeks, months or even years after the event took place.
Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms can arise suddenly, gradually or come and go over time. Sometimes symptoms seem to be in remission and then unexpectedly, they may re-occur for no obvious reason. At other times, symptoms are brought on by specific triggers which provide a reminder of the original event. These can be certain words or images, a particular noise or even a smell.
It is normal to experience a range of emotions after a traumatic incident. However, when the symptoms last for more than a month and start to interfere with your daily life, you may be suffering from PTSD.
“Helped me overcome PTSD, reconnect with myself and others, overcome my sense of helplessness, appreciate myself more and gain strength and confidence …”
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There are many types of traumatic event that can lead to PTSD. Some common situations include:
Everyone experiences PTSD differently. However, there are three common symptom groups which can be accompanied by other additional symptoms:
Re-experiencing the Traumatic Event
This is the feeling that the trauma incident is happening again. This can be caused by sudden “flash backs”, thoughts, images and nightmares. Even a sound or a smell can trigger your body into a full physical re-experiencing of all or part of what took place, or perhaps more sensations that you felt during the event itself.
Avoidance or Numbing
The attempt to avoid any person, situation or event that might trigger any memory or sensation connected to the trauma event is a common ‘avoidance’ symptom. When numbing occurs it is as if the mind and body block out any memory or physical sensation that can provide any reminder of the event. This numb feeling can also intrude upon day to day living in the form of a pervading sense of detachment or disinterest.
Hyper Arousal and Increased Anxiety
This is when you find yourself in a constant state of vigilance for any person, place or thing that could trigger an emotional or physiological reminder in your body. The effort required to maintain this constant state of alertness tends to give rise to increased levels of anxiety, tension, irritability and exhaustion.
Other Common Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder include:
Additional side effects of PTSD can include:
Your trauma psychotherapist can provide a safe, confidential space where you can learn concrete strategies for coping with the intense physiological symptoms caused by post-traumatic stress disorder. Your trauma counsellor can also help you understand certain factors that are often outside the trauma occurrence itself, but can significantly contribute to your ongoing symptoms. You will learn how to address these, and this combined approach can enable you to rebuild your confidence and feel more in control of your life again.
Different Psychotherapy and Counselling Treatment for PTSD
Some common counselling and psychotherapy approaches used to help people overcome post-traumatic stress disorder include:
Integrative psychotherapy is an individually tailored type of therapy that combines elements from a broad spectrum of psychotherapy approaches. Your therapist will take into consideration the nature of your trauma and your personality style in order to create a course of treatment that is best suited to your unique needs. It may also include elements that can help address other issues which can contribute to PTSD symptoms such as anxiety, depression, phobias and OCD.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioural therapy can be very useful in helping people understand their thought patterns and how to weed out those that are unhelpful or harmful, and contribute to making symptoms worse.
It is not unusual for people who have undergone a traumatic event to blame themselves for things they couldn’t have changed. CBT can help you understand how the event was not your fault and change the way you think about what happened. Learn more about cognitive behavioural therapy at KlearMinds
CBT therapy can help give PTSD sufferers a feeling of control over their fear and help them come to terms with what happened to them. You can learn how to replace any unhelpful thoughts with more realistic ones and thereby develop the capacity to cope much better when presented with a trigger. You can also discover how to alleviate any associated feelings such as guilt, fear or anger.
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR employs a series of side-to-side eye movements which are used to help reduce the symptoms of PTSD. This approach can help people more effectively process flashbacks and memories and lessen their impact.
EMDR can help change the way you react to the memories of what happened to you. You might be asked to focus on stimuli such as hand taps, sounds or eye movements while talking about such memories. Evidence indicates this approach can help people change how they react to the memories over time.
At KlearMinds our experienced PTSD psychotherapists and counsellors can help you address the impact of this disorder, in the following ways.
Judy is a highly experienced psychotherapist. She utilizes a wide range of therapies, including CBT and psychoeducation to help her clients. She also holds considerable experience providing Career Coaching, Mindfulness Meditation and Mediation. Judy draws on a wealth of experiencing and works proactively with clients to help them understand and positively change patterns of thinking and behaviour which hold them back in life.
Mita is a highly experienced psychotherapist and counsellor with over 20 years of clinical experience. She is passionate about helping clients overcome issues they have been struggling with for months and sometimes years. Mita draws upon a range of therapies including, CBT, Mindfulness and EMDR, which she tailors to best suit each client she works with.
Kate is a highly skilled therapist. She has worked successfully in a variety of settings, including media, TV, journalism, law and higher education. She draws upon a broad range of therapeutic skills including existential, CBT, mindfulness and psychoeducation to enable clients to achieve the outcomes they want, in terms of professional and personal satisfaction and wellbeing.
Amanda is a highly experienced Advanced CBT and Integrative therapist with more than 8 years experience. She draws upon a wide range of therapies and works proactively to help clients understand, process and resolve their concerns and conflicts. Amanda can assist you to quickly identify problematic thoughts and behaviours which negatively impact your personal and professional well-being.
Jodie is a psychotherapist with several years experience helping individuals address a wide range of concerns. She works collaboratively using a variety of therapies, including CBT psychoeducation and coaching skills to empower clients to make positive changes. Jodie draws upon a range of theories and techniques best suited to the needs of each client, helping them to understand and change patterns of unhelpful behaviour, which can hold them back.
Dr Justin Basquille
Dr Basquille is Consultant Psychiatrist with over 20 years experience helping patients with mental health concerns, within the NHS and private practice. As a psychiatrist, he provides a medical service that focuses on the diagnosing and treatment of a wide range of mental health conditions and psychiatric disorders. He can evaluate, assess and recommend a course of medication which can provide you with physical, mental and emotional relief for a range of psychological concerns.
Karen is a highly experienced psychologist, executive and career coach with more than 15 years experience helping adults address a wide range of concerns. Karen draws upon a variety of therapies and coaching skills, tailoring her approach, to best suit the learning style of each client. Karen works proactively. She can help you understand and constructively change problematic beliefs and patterns of behaviour that inhibit your ability to realise your personal goals.
Paul Glynn holds over 30 years experience as a therapist and is KlearMinds Clinical Director. Paul offers a warm, pragmatic and interactive approach to help you understand and go beyond the difficulties you are facing. He is passionate about empowering clients to develop the tools that can help them to resolve stuckness and positively change repetitive, problematic behaviours.
Maggie is an award winning psychotherapist, an accomplished life coach and counsellor, and Director of KlearMinds. In 2007 she was awarded the BACP National Award for advancing the quality of therapy service provision to the highest standards in the UK. Maggie’s experience spans over 20 years helping people overcome problems so they can enjoy more fulfilling and satisfying lives.
Tania is an experienced psychotherapist and couples counsellor. She is highly skilled in helping couples and individuals address a wide range of concerns. She has a warm, collaborative, insightful approach and uses a range of therapies including psychodynamic and mindfulness, to enable her clients to understand and resolve issues constructively.
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This page was written by Maggie Morrow (MSc, BSc, Adv Dip, UKCP) and medically reviewed in February 2022.