Getting the most from your PTSD treatment
Just over a decade ago, people still thought that PTSD was an incurable condition, but more recent evidence and research proves it is possible for PTSD to be successfully treated many years after the traumatic event occurred, which means it is never too late to seek help.
For some, the first step may be watchful waiting, then exploring therapeutic options such as individual or group therapy. NICE guidance (updated in 2018) recommends trauma-focused psychological treatments such as EMDR, and trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). You may also want to explore group and individual therapy, holistic non-pharmacological therapies, or talk to your doctor about treatment with appropriate prescription drugs.
Traumatic events can be very difficult to come to terms with, but confronting and understanding your feelings and seeking professional help is often the only way of effectively treating PTSD.
Choosing a therapist or practitioner
If you are receiving treatment for PTSD through the NHS, you may be unable to ‘choose’ your therapist, but if you are looking for private treatment, choosing the right therapist for you is really important.
Beyond credentials and experience, it’s important to find a PTSD therapist who makes you feel comfortable and safe, so there is no additional fear or anxiety about the treatment itself – this will set you on the path to recovery that is focused, appropriate and geared toward the sensitive issues that are unique to PTSD healing.
Some things to bear in mind are:
- Trust your gut: If a therapist doesn’t feel right, look for someone else. For therapy to work, you need to feel respected and understood.
- Find a therapist who is specifically trauma-trained: PTSD treatment and recovery is a complex process that is best undertaken under the direction of someone who truly understands the science behind the symptoms of PTSD, plus the most important components of healing. Look for a psychologist or therapist who holds qualifications in trauma treatment and approach methods that are documented for PTSD.
- Interview or have a trial session where possible: You have the right to ask any questions you feel you need answers to. It can help to make a list of questions to take with you, perhaps about their training, work history, and success with other PTSD clients.
How do I make the most of therapy and reach towards recovery?
Treatment for PTSD can take time, andit’s not always a linear process. Many people are fearful of treatment as they worry it won’t work, or that they need to discuss the trauma in detail, but your therapist will help guide you through these worries. To get the most from your therapist and embrace the healing process from PTSD, here are some tips:
- Believe: If you don’t believe you can make a full recovery, it will be really difficult to. Trust that you can recover from PTSD and know that tomorrow can be a new day. Read our case studies about people who have conquered PTSD and feel their lives have ‘changed forever’.
- Set goals: It’s all very well saying ‘I want to feel better’ but it’s quite vague and difficult to measure. Start your recovery process clearly with goals such as ‘I want to be able to go out alone’ or ‘I want to be able to sleep a whole night through’ and you can measure these successes as they come along.
- Get involved: Ask as many questions as you need, understand the process, talk things through. The therapist is there to guide you through recovery and the treatment, but ultimately, you need to do the hard work.
- Take Action: Recovery only happens because you happen. If you remain passive and static, so will your recovery. Taking actions toward each goal is so important and helps build momentum. Do any follow up work your therapist provides for in-between sessions, and although it may be tough, keep going.
- Give yourself some ‘me’ time: Recovery can be tough and tiring process, so make sure to give yourself some time off and love. If you can, confide in friends and family about what you’re going through so they can help.
- Be open: There are lots of approaches to recovery and reducing PTSD symptoms, so be open to activites and therapies which can augment your main treatment, or help you keep motivated to healing. You can read about many of those here.
- Build your confidence: PTSD can knock your confidence, so help your recovery process by doing things to build your self-esteem and worth.
- Get Support: As you probably know, PTSD can be very isolating, so try to find one person you can trust and talk things over with during your recovery. If you have no-one, you can call Samaritans on 116 123 for a friendly chat.
- Work between your session where required: For some therapies like EMDR, you’re best to relax, but for some therapies and processes, there may be ‘work’ to do – speak to your therapist for the best course of action.
If you feel that your recovery isn’t progressing as you’d hoped, it’s important to understand the recovery process to ensure that you’re not putting any blockers in place of your healing.
NICE guidance updated in 2018 recommends the use of trauma focused psychological treatments for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in adults, specifically the use of Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR) and trauma focused cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
Please remember, these aren’t meant to be medical recommendations, but they’re tactics that have worked for others and might work for you, too. Be sure to work with a professional to find the best methods for you.
PTSD UK Blog
You’ll find up-to-date news, research and information here along with some great tips to ease your PTSD in our blog.
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