What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

Experiencing trauma is not rare. About 6 out of every 10 men, and 5 out of every 10 women will experience a traumatic event at some point in their lives. Up to 20% of these people will develop PTSD. However, women are about twice as likely as men to develop PTSD.

PTSD is a mental health condition that is triggered by one or more terrifying events – typically involving a major threat to physical, emotional, or psychological safety – that are experienced directly or witnessed in person. Trauma can occur in a variety of ways, but examples include exposure to combat, physical or sexual abuse, severe accidents, witnessing the death of a loved one, and natural disasters.

While most people will experience temporary difficulty adjusting and coping following traumatic experiences, with time and self-care they will recover on their own. However, if the symptoms last for months or years and interfere with day-to-day functioning, you may have PTSD.

Common symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Fear and anxiety
  • Nightmares and sleeplessness
  • Intrusive memories or “flashbacks”
  • Avoidance of people, places, or activities that are reminders of the trauma
  • Emotional “numbness”
  • Negative emotions, such as intense shame, guilt, or hopelessness
  • Irritable behavior or angry outbursts
  • Being easily startled

The primary treatment for PTSD is psychotherapy, but can also include medication to help with some of the symptoms of PTSD, such as depression. Psychotherapy can help you regain a sense of control over your life by learning new ways to think about your trauma. 

I employ research-tested interventions – including cognitive processing therapy – that are highly recommended for the treatment of PTSD.

What is Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)?
Originally developed as a treatment for victims of rape, CPT is a specific type of cognitive behavioral therapy that has been scientifically studied and found to be effective in reducing symptoms of PTSD. CPT teaches you how to evaluate and change the upsetting thoughts you have had since your trauma. By changing your thoughts, you can change how you feel.

How Does CPT Work?
Trauma can change the way you think about yourself, others, and the world. For example, you may believe you are to blame for what happened or that the world is a dangerous place. These upsetting thoughts are called “stuck points” in CPT because they keep you stuck in your PTSD and cause you to miss out on things you used to enjoy. By definition, stuck points are thoughts that are not 100% accurate. In CPT you will learn to recognize these stuck points and examine whether the facts support your thought or not. Ultimately, you can decide whether to adopt a new, more balanced, and helpful way of thinking about your trauma.

How Long will CPT Last?
CPT generally requires 12 sessions in order to achieve a noticeable and lasting improvement in PTSD symptoms, but this can vary from person to person. Some people can get relief in as little as 8 sessions, while others may require up to 14.

Coordination with Other Providers
With your consent, I will collaborate with your medical team, such as your primary care physician and/or psychiatrist, to tailor a treatment plan that best meets your needs and treatment goals.

You don’t have to go through this alone. With professional help, you can begin to heal and regain a sense of control over your life.

Call me for a free consultation: (310) 383-1505