Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder, which occurs after being exposed to an extreme traumatic event. These include accidents, violent personal attack, death threat, terrorist attack, natural disaster, military combat and being diagnosed with a terminal illness amongst others. The main symptoms of PTSD are:

  • Re-experiencing – The individual may re-experience the traumatic event through flashbacks or dreams. Sometimes, they may actually feel that they are reliving the experience including the psychological and physiological memories of the event (smell, texture, fear, etc.)
  • Avoidance – In order to distract oneself from re-experiencing the event, the individual starts avoiding anything, anyone or anywhere that reminds them of the trauma.
  • Increased arousal – The individual is constantly aroused with symptoms like difficulty sleeping, irritability, anger outbursts, difficulty concentrating, hyper vigilance and exaggerated startle response.
  • Duration – The symptoms of the trauma need to be present longer than one month.
  • The symptoms from the event cause clinically significant distress and impairment in social, occupational and other important areas of the individual’s daily functioning.

Most clients suffering from PTSD require medication. However, its most efficient treatment is its combination with counselling and psychotherapy. Counselling provides the client an area where they can firstly process all the symptoms they are experiencing. The therapist helps the client understand their thoughts, feelings and behaviors that are connected to these symptoms. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques are specifically used to help the client change their thoughts, emotions and negative thought processes that they may have developed after the event. Eventually, the client may also be exposed to several mental images of the event so that the client slowly learns to gain control over their emotions and distress.