Sometimes experiencing the kinds of events described above is overwhelming and the natural healing and recovery process stalls, leaving us unable to make sense of our experience, and even life in general. Truths we formerly took for granted may now seem unreliable. We may respond by feeling vulnerable to attack, sensing the need to defend and protect ourselves at all times. We may experience intrusive recollections of the trauma, nightmares, haunting thoughts about what the experience means, problems sleeping, loss of interest in life and a diminished ability to experience pleasure, difficulty concentrating, or general irritability and anger. These symptoms center around four main clusters:
Well-meaning friends and relatives may think the problem is just a memory of the traumatic event that we can’t forget, and may counsel us to “just let it go.” But it isn’t simply a memory of the event. Rather, it may be a certain person, or a word, or smell, or sound or sight, or any combination of those things, that launches us immediately into that situation again, where we are again experiencing in real time, the emotions we experienced before. Far from a simple memory, post traumatic stress is an unwanted and often gravely feared re-experiencing of the event, over which we have little control.
As we attempt to cope with the new stress created by the experience of a trauma, one thing that occasionally occurs is a cycle consisting of:
. . . and so on.
Fortunately post-traumatic stress can be successfully treated! At The Banyan Group we employ an evidence-based protocol, Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), in which you learn to identify and re-pattern your thinking about the event. This helps you develop better coping mechanisms, and allows you to re-initiate the naturally restorative healing process. The therapy occurs over a 12 week period, and involves some homework, but gives you tools to deal with intrusive thoughts, negative interpretations of events and provides not only relief from immediate stress, but long-term healing, as well.
Resick, P. A., Monson, C.M., & Chard K. M.,(2014). Cognitive Processing Therapy: Veteran/Military version: Therapist's manual. Washington, DC: Department of Veterans Affairs.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) - The Center for Deployment Psychology - Preparing Professionals to Support Warriors and Families - http://deploymentpsych.org/disorders/ptsd-main
Yehuda, Rachel PhD; Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - Current Concepts, New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 346, No. 2 · January 10, 2002 · Boston, MA, Massachusetts Medical Society - Accessed 08/06/2015 - http://old.impact-kenniscentrum.nl/doc/kennisbank/1000010585-1.pdf.
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