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A Guide to PTSD and Most Effective Psychotherapy Treatment Options

Traumatic experiences can unexpectedly alter a person’s worldview, simply put, it's like having the rug unexpectedly pulled out from under your feet. The things, places, people, or situations that once felt normal or safe to be around, may suddenly feel like a threat, or can trigger unwanted physiological responses. 

In the United States, nearly half of the population will experience at least one traumatic event in their lifetime. However, most individuals do not develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  For those who do, the impact can be profound, and may affect their ability to function in their normal settings or environment.


What’s the Difference Between Trauma and PTSD?

Following a traumatic experience, it's common to experience shock, distressing memories, and heightened sensitivity to trauma reminders. Negative and exaggerated thinking patterns may also emerge. For most people, these reactions typically diminish with time. However, for those who develop PTSD, their symptoms persist, or even intensify, long after the traumatic event has passed.


Common Symptoms of PTSD

People with PTSD often encounter symptoms that disrupt their ability to function effectively at work, school, home, and in relationships. These symptoms may include:

  • Insomnia

  • Flashbacks

  • Nightmares

  • Intrusive thoughts

  • Hypervigilance

  • Irritability

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Dissociative reactions

  • Heightened physiological responses to triggers

  • Persistent avoidance of reminders

  • Overwhelming guilt or shame

  • Reliving the event


Most Effective Psychotherapy Treatments for PTSD

When it comes to treating PTSD, various psychotherapy approaches have proven to be highly effective. Here's a breakdown of some of the most impactful modalities:


  • Eye Movement Desensitization (EMDR): Uses eye movements in a specific way to process traumatic events.

  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT): An approach to help people manage intense emotions using. Core concepts of DBT focus on developing  and improving emotional regulation and distress tolerance skills.

  • Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT): Specifically targets trauma-related symptoms and helps individuals process and cope with traumatic experiences in a structured manner.

  • Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT):  Focuses on reshaping distorted beliefs and perceptions stemming from trauma, enabling individuals to reconstruct their worldview and regain a sense of empowerment.


What to Expect from Therapy Sessions with a Certified CPT Therapist

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) offers a structured and systematic approach to understanding and challenging the negative beliefs that arise following a traumatic event. By dissecting thoughts related to safety, trust, control, self-worth, and intimacy, CPT empowers individuals to rewrite their cognitive narrative.

When you engage in therapy with a certified Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) therapist, here's what you might encounter in your therapy sessions:

  1. Thorough Assessment: Your therapist will start by getting to know you and understanding your experiences. They'll ask questions to assess the impact of trauma on your life and your specific needs for therapy.

  2. Psychoeducation: You'll receive information about PTSD symptoms, what causes them, different treatment options available, and how CPT works. Understanding these aspects can empower you in your healing process.

  3. Guided Exercises and Therapeutic Dialogue: Your therapist will lead you through exercises and discussions aimed at examining and challenging negative beliefs stemming from the trauma. This process helps you rewrite your cognitive narrative and regain control over your thoughts.

  4. Skill-Building Techniques: Throughout therapy, you'll learn practical skills to manage distressing emotions, cope with triggers, and improve your overall well-being. These techniques can include relaxation exercises, mindfulness practices, and effective communication strategies.


Seeking Support and Additional Resources

If you're grappling with PTSD symptoms, reaching out for professional help is a crucial step towards healing. Consider exploring the various treatment options available, including psychotherapy modalities like CPT, to find the approach that is right for you.

At Life Change Therapy Now, we are committed to providing compassionate support to individuals navigating trauma and PTSD. As a certified practitioner of Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), I am dedicated to helping clients embark on their journey towards healing and resilience.


For further information and resources, you may also visit:


  • The National Center for PTSD: This comprehensive resource offers valuable insights and support for individuals affected by PTSD, including information on treatment options and coping strategies.

  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Information HelpLine provides support, referral and information on mental illness care.

  • Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) is the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE). Beyond hotline services, RAINN conducts initiatives aimed at preventing sexual violence, supporting survivors, and advocating for the accountability of perpetrators.






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