Exposure to trauma, fear, helplessness, sadness, confusion or horror,
can mark a person’s emotional reactions and manifest as PTSD.
What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Witnessing someone being badly hurt or killed, involvement in a fire, flood, earthquake, severe hurricane, or other natural disaster, involvement in a life-threatening accident (workplace explosion or transportation accident), military combat and other stressers caused intentionally by human beings (genocide, rape, torture, abuse, etc.): The patient has been exposed to a catastrophic event involving actual or threatened death or injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of the self or others.
Traumatic memories have two distinctive characteristics:
- They can be triggered by stimuli that remind the patient of the traumatic event.
- They have a “frozen” or wordless quality, consisting of images and sensations rather than verbal descriptions.
Avoidance symptoms: The patient attempts to reduce the possibility of exposure to anything that might trigger memories of the trauma, and to minimize his or her reactions to such memories. This cluster of symptoms includes feeling disconnected from other people, psychic numbing, and avoidance of places, persons, or things associated with the trauma. Patients with PTSD are at increased risk of substance abuse as a form of self-medication to numb painful memories.
Hyper-arousal: Hyper-arousal is a condition in which the patient’s nervous system is always on “red alert” for the return of danger. This symptom cluster includes hyper-vigilance, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, general irritability, and an extreme startle response– a frequent but not always apparent symptom of PTSD, nor is it solely required in diagnosis.
Significance: The patient suffers from significant social, interpersonal, or work-related problems as a result of the PTSD symptoms. A common social symptom of PTSD is a feeling of disconnection from other people (including loved ones), from the larger society, and from spiritual or other significant sources of meaning. These symptoms are normal responses to trauma.
One coping strategy includes “critical incident stress management” – a system of interventions designed to help emergency/disaster response workers and public safety personnel.
Other treatment methods used with patients who have already developed PTSD include:
Cognitive-behavioral therapy. Two treatment approaches to PTSD fall under this heading: exposure therapy, which seeks to desensitize the patient to reminders of the trauma; and anxiety management training, which teaches the patient strategies for reducing anxiety. These strategies may include: relaxation training, biofeedback, social skills training, distraction techniques, or cognitive restructuring.
- Conventional psychotherapy. This method helps the patient recover a sense of self and learn new coping strategies and ways to deal with intense emotions related to the trauma. Typically, it consists of three phases: 1) establishing a sense of safety for the patient; 2) exploring the trauma itself in depth; 3) helping the patient re-establish connections with family, friends, the wider society, and other sources of meaning.
- Discussion groups or peer-counseling groups. These groups are usually formed for survivors of specific traumas, such as combat, rape/incest, and natural disasters. They help patients to recognize that other survivors of the shared experience have had the same emotions and reacted to the trauma in similar ways.
- Family Therapy. This form of treatment is recommended for PTSD patients whose family life has been affected by the PTSD symptoms.
- Spiritual/religious counseling. Because traumatic experiences often affect patients’ spiritual views and beliefs, counseling with a trusted religious or spiritual adviser may be part of a treatment plan.
- Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR) via psyche-biofeedback therapy. This is a technique in which the patient treats the trauma like a videotape and “runs through” it repeatedly with the therapist until all negative emotions have been discharged, reducing the patient’s hyper-arousal. CLICK HERE for more information on our approach.
How We Handle It
We call it psyche-biofeedback therapy. Our methods have been in use since before the inceptions of Exposure and TIR therapies. The other therapies may be fine for getting “surface” tensions removed, but will (and do) fall short of getting the core discomforts and issues handled. Our work already includes the cognitive-behavioral approaches. We may start with a group meeting for initial understanding of real help for post-traumatic stress disorder, then continue on an individual therapy basis. Family and spiritual issues are always addressed and handled to a successful, happy outcome.
Our approach calmly addresses the core issues of trauma, with a two-fold approach:
- Reduce, and even eliminate, the hyper-arousal, and
- Immediately, painlessly and safely discover and eliminate the hidden confusions, beliefs and terrors that drive the chaos of trauma with biofeedback guidance.
The results are a calmer, happier individual who can get along anywhere with anyone, at will.
There is relief today. Don’t wait another one.
Call 510-337-0423 to discover which strategy is best for you.
You deserve the best treatment yesterday. Call now.
Send inquiries to: Info@MontereyCenter.Org
1. Adapted from: Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders(2003), by Rebecca J. Frey