What Is Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Trauma is an emotional response to an event which is outside of the normal or typical human experience, according to the American Psychological Association. Examples of extreme experiences include, but are not limited to accidents, sexual assault and natural disasters. Responses include difficulty regulating emotions, experiencing flashbacks and physical symptoms. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) does not happen to everyone who has experienced trauma.
Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- have experienced or witnessed an event in which your life or others’ lives were threatened with death or serious injury
- have felt intense fear, helplessness and horror
- re-experience the event by having intrusive recurrent memories or nightmares
- may feel like you are reliving the event via hallucinations and active flashbacks
- experience distress when exposed to triggers such as sounds, smells, sights which remind you of the event
and when symptoms above have caused significant distress impairing social, occupational functioning or other areas of your life.
Treatment Options for PTSD
There are several treatment options for PTSD including:
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Encourages the client to examine how their thoughts and beliefs are impacting their feelings and behaviour. When an individual has experienced trauma, their beliefs about the world and themselves change. The CBT trained therapist helps the client replace the distressing thoughts with more accurate ones.
- Exposure Therapy. Clients talk about the distressing feelings and memories repeatedly with the therapist. The goal of this type of therapy is to begin to feel less overwhelmed by the memories and learn not to fear them.
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a treatment option used with children, teens, and adults who have experienced trauma, as well as those who have chronic depression, worry, anxiety, or difficulties with anger.
- Medication. Often used in conjunction with therapies. Medication can be an option after consultation with your family doctor or psychiatrist.
Treatment decisions are best made with input from both the therapist and the individual. Collaboration and trust is essential for individuals facing the challenging journey of PTSD.
More About EMDR
EMDR targets past, present and future. Developed in the late 80s in the states by Francine Shapiro, EMDR has been researched extensively and has been recommended by the World Health Organization, American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association for the treatment of trauma.
EMDR utilizes eye movement, alternating beeps or alternating taps on the back of the hands (also known as bilateral stimulation) to assist the person with the processing of difficult material. Difficult material can range from sexual assault or abuse memories, to a car accident or trauma experienced in the workplace. Conflict with siblings, witnessing parental arguments or bullying in school can have just as big an impact as issues that are typically associated with the more traditional definition of trauma. Learn more about EMDR treatment for Trauma – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
EMDR Certified and Trained Therapist in Hamilton
Annette Poechman is a Certified EMDR Therapist, which includes training for first responders. Annette works with individuals who have had a wide variety of experiences that are negatively affecting their life. She understands the importance of developing a strong therapeutic relationship before embarking on the journey of processing distressing life events. If you want to change your life, talk to Annette to learn more about how personal counselling and EMDR will make a difference. Listening. Guiding. Caring.