For people for suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) moving towards a way to rid themselves of their distressing symptoms may land them worrying that they may never recover and wondering what PTSD counseling looks like. While PTSD can be devastating to an individual, as well as those people who care about them, there are effective counseling techniques. There are also various ways in which PTSD counseling can be helpful.
PTSD counseling is aimed at helping an individual who has experienced some form of traumatic event (whether it was direct harm to themselves, witnessing a loved one be harmed, or feeling as if their life were in danger). Traumatic events vary from accidents, sexual assault, natural disasters, to combat experiences, and so on. Individuals with PTSD often are coping with frequent “flashbacks” in which they unintentionally recall the trauma, often in great detail. They may report feeling as if they are back in the traumatic situation. They often report feeling numb and detached from the world at times. They may feel unsafe and have difficulties sleeping or relaxing.
Depending on the therapists orientation, the approach to PTSD counseling will vary. However, there should be some level of educating the individual about PTSD in any form of PTSD counseling. There are therapists who engage in a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approach which may include teaching the individual how to change how they think about the traumatic event. It also may include relaxation training and teaching of coping skills. Importantly, it is likely to include some form of exposure in which the individual is guided through a sequence of real or imagined events that trigger unpleasant recollections of the trauma. PTSD counseling that involves such exposures should be done with a well trained counselor and at a pace that is agreed upon (from least distressing to most). Overtime the idea is that the individual will process the negative thoughts, emotions, and physical reactions to the trauma and ultimately see a reduction in symptoms.