Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Helping people recover from emotional trauma caused by accidents, natural disasters, war, violence, or significant losses, either suffered in childhood or in the present time, there are two therapeutic techniques currently available: Cognitive Processing Therapy and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing or EMDR. Both are non-invasive, relatively rapid-acting treatment that can produce dramatic recoveries and in many cases promote immediate relief and well-being.

Recover from PTSD

Traumatic memories and all memories in general are processed by the brain and stored in different ways. Even mildly traumatic experiences can sometimes become etched or “burned-in” with a high degree of detail. In these cases, it is not only the memory of the fact that is preserved, but also the intense emotional experience of it. When a significant event is moderate in emotional intensity, it is usually stored in long-term memory. The long-term memory process works as it should and the memory of significant events is stored and remains retrievable throughout our lifespan. Traumatic events, on the other hand, can disrupt this process and cause the brain to store memories almost entirely as emotions or sensations rather than as a nearly emotion-free recollection of facts. When events are particularly traumatic, the brain can attempt to mitigate the effects of the trauma by burying the memory very deeply, sometimes even to the point of blocking it entirely from recollection. Later in life, there may be certain sensory “triggers” that cause these seemingly forgotten material to resurface, often at inappropriate times and circumstances. The memories related to the trauma may return in the form of pure sensations or emotions, sometimes involving “flashbacks” that feel like the memory is being partially re-experienced. Traumatic memories may become progressively more focused until they become a full recollection of the event and the traumatic emotions associated with it. This phenomenon may vary in intensity, at at this worst it is known as posttraumatic stress disorder or PTSD.
There are two approved treatment protocols for traumatic stress: CPT or Cognitive Processing Therapy and EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. CPT is recommended for most cases. EMDR is recommended for severe or chronic cases. Both CPT and EMDR treatment can help in the process of becoming aware of the impact of traumatic memories on well-being and functioning, assist in their gradual re-processing, and help the individual manage and make sense of this newly found awareness of traumas that occurred earlier in life.

What is EMDR?

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences. Repeated studies show that by using EMDR people can experience the benefits of psychotherapy that once took years to make a difference. It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal. EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma. When you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound. If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain. Once the block is removed, healing resumes. EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes. The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health. If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can causes intense suffering. Once the block is removed, healing resumes. Using the detailed protocols and procedures learned in EMDR training sessions, clinicians help clients activate their natural healing processes. Twenty positive controlled outcome studies have been done on EMDR. Some of the studies show that 84%-90% of single-trauma victims no longer have post-traumatic stress disorder after only three 90-minute sessions. Another study, funded by the HMO Kaiser Permanente, found that 100% of the single-trauma victims and 77% of multiple trauma victims no longer were diagnosed with PTSD after only six 50-minute sessions. In another study, 77% of combat veterans were free of PTSD in 12 sessions. There has been so much research on EMDR that it is now recognized as an effective form of treatment for trauma and other disturbing experiences by organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association and the Department of Defense. Given the worldwide recognition as an effective treatment of trauma, you can easily see how EMDR would be effective in treating the “everyday” memories that are the reason people have low self-esteem, feelings of powerlessness, and all the myriad problems that bring them in for therapy. Over 70,000 clinicians throughout the world use the therapy. Millions of people have been treated successfully over the past 20 years. 

Get help

To make an appointment with Dr. Z, call (678) 554-5632 or fill out the online appointment request. We can go over your current situation, identify the ways in which high levels of PTSD symptoms are affecting your life and that of your loved ones, or are impairing important relationships. We will put some dimensions to the problem, and identify your current resources that may be applied toward meaningful and lasting change. If additional resources and skills are needed, we will treat your severe symptoms with CBT and EMDR and help you feel calmer and increase your ability to choose the most appropriate response to each situation. Treating PTSD is feasible, the treatments have been proven to be effective, and have helped many people who had a variety of different symptoms and challenges. Call (678) 554-5632, make your appointment today and we can get started!

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What is Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)?

Cognitive processing therapy (CPT) is a cognitive-behavioral treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and related problems.

The overall goals of CPT are to improve your PTSD symptoms, and any associated symptoms you may have (such as depression, anxiety, guilt, or shame). It also aims to improve your day to day living.

CPT consists of 6–24 individual (one-on-one) therapy sessions; the average is 12. Each session lasts 50–60 minutes. In these sessions, you will learn about the symptoms of PTSD and the reasons why some people develop it.

You will also be helped in identifying and exploring how your trauma or traumas have changed your thoughts and beliefs, and how some of these ways of thinking may keep you “stuck” in your symptoms.

CPT does not involve repeatedly reviewing the details of your trauma(s). However, you will be asked to examine your experiences in order to understand how they have affected your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. 

In addition, after each session you will be given practice assignments to complete outside the sessions. These assignments are designed to improve your PTSD symptoms more rapidly outside the treatment sessions.