Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a mental health condition that is triggered by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic life event. People suffering from PTSD find it difficult to recover from the incident, and they experience disturbing thoughts and/or emotions that persist long after the incident has occurred. People who have experienced or witnessed traumatic events such as a natural disaster, war, sexual assault, violence, a serious injury, or any life-threatening incidents may develop PTSD.
Feeling scared, disturbed or being in distress during and after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying incident is a normal reaction for everyone. In fact, it is how our body defends itself from danger or avoids it. This fight-or-flight response is a typical reaction to fear. While most people recover from this naturally within a short time, people suffering from PTSD remain in emotional and psychological distress that begins right after the event, and possibly lasts for months or even years. PTSD typically develops when the trauma experienced is not processed completely or effectively, hindering the healing process.
You may refer to the list below for some of the common signs and symptoms to see if you are experiencing a normal reaction to a traumatic event or suffering from PTSD. If you or someone you know displays all or most of the listed symptoms, consult a mental health professional as soon as you can. Book an appointment with us for either an online or in-person counselling session.
The signs and symptoms of PTSD are typically grouped into four main categories: intrusion, avoidance, alterations in cognition and mood, and alterations in reactivity and arousal. Some of the common signs and symptoms of PTSD (which may vary in intensity) include:
1. Intrusion: Re-experiencing the Events Involuntarily
3. Alterations in Cognition and Mood
4. Alterations in Reactivity and Arousal
PTSD counselling can involve various types of interventions. These interventions can be used in combination or singly, which will depend on factors like the severity of your symptoms or the intensity of the traumatic event. Some of the common interventions methods for PTSD include:
1. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
CBT is an effective intervention method for PTSD as it helps you identify unhelpful and unhealthy thinking and behavioural patterns, and replace them with healthier and more positive ones. CBT can also help by increasing your emotional insight by exploring ways to cope with reminders of the trauma. With the help of our trusted therapists, clients who undergo CBT can reframe disturbing negative emotions (such as shame and guilt) and beliefs (such as “I have failed”; “the world is dangerous”) due to the trauma. Through this, you can slowly eliminate unhealthy behaviours, thoughts and feelings and slowly work towards recovering from the traumatic event.
2. Exposure Therapy
Exposure therapy is a well-established treatment for PTSD that helps clients confront their fears by focusing on and describing the details of the trauma. When people are scared of something, they tend to avoid the feared object or event. Although this avoidance behaviour may seem to help reduce feelings of fear temporarily, it can increase fear towards the object or event in the long run. Exposure therapy, thus, helps to break this pattern of avoidance and fear. During exposure therapy, our experienced therapists will create a safe and controlled environment to repeatedly “expose” you to the feared object or event and teach you ways on how to manage and reduce the fear experienced. This may sound all too daunting; rest assured, our therapists will be with you every step of the way to provide you with all the support that you need.
3. Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)
EMDR is a unique treatment for PTSD that focuses on the memory centres of the brain, specifically on events or triggers, and any neurological associations. EMDR is helpful as it facilitates the desensitisation of the traumatic object or event, reducing the impact of symptoms such as flashbacks, triggers, or hypervigilance. Furthermore, EMDR can train your brain to orient more accurately and recognize that the traumatic event is over and in the past, allowing you to engage in rational reasoning and thought. During EMDR therapy, our therapists will focus primarily on your memory of the trauma and aim to change how this memory is stored in your brain. Our therapists will guide you during the process to help reduce and eliminate the distressing symptoms you are experiencing.
4. Brief Eclectic Psychotherapy (BEP)
BET is a unique therapeutic intervention for PTSD that aims to slowly get rid of painful thoughts and feelings caused by the traumatic object or event. While adopting several different components also used in CBT, BEP adopts a psychodynamic approach that emphasises on the feelings such as shame or guilt and thrives on the relationship shared between you and your therapist. BEP typically follows a 16-session programme, with each individual session having its own specific objective. In BEP, our therapists will work with you in reducing and managing your symptoms of PTSD better.
5. Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET)
In NET, a chronological narrative of your life is created while concentrating mainly on your traumatic experiences, but also including some positive life events. NET can be effective as it allows you to contextualise the cognitive, affective and sensory memory systems of your trauma. By expressing your life narrative, the memory of your traumatic experience can be refined and understood better and more accurately.
Psychotherapy and counselling can be an effective treatment method for those suffering from PTSD. It can help you trade unhealthy and distorted thought and emotion processing mechanisms for more accurate and positive ones. It can also provide you with a safe space to confront your fears which will allow you to process the trauma fully and effectively and allow you a chance for healing and recovery. PTSD counselling, as explained above, can adopt various intervention methods such as CBT, exposure therapy, EMDR, BEP and NET.
At Incontact, our experienced therapists and counsellors will guide you in processing your thoughts and feelings associated with the traumatic event and help reduce the symptoms much effectively. We believe in designing intervention programmes that are best suited for you and your unique experience and interests.
Using a heterogenous approach, our therapists combine several different concepts and theories that can help you achieve your mental health goals and make each session count. We are a team of reputable, licensed therapists who attune to your specific needs and learning styles to help bring in permanent, long-term results and make an ever-changing impact on your life. Trained in forming sound relationships, our therapists act as enablers in your journey of self-development and empower you to become your best self.
Answer: If you are experiencing excessive fear and worry about a traumatic experience that is disrupting your day-to-day functioning and making you engage in avoidance behaviours frequently, consult a mental health professional as soon as you can. Book an appointment with us for either an online or in-person counselling session.
Answer: By adopting the treatment methods described above, PTSD counselling will be able to help you restructure unhealthy and distorted thoughts and emotions about the traumatic experience and teach you ways to manage them. During PTSD counselling, you and your therapist will work together to reduce the symptoms that you are experiencing and work towards healing from your traumas.