What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

PTSD develops in some individuals who experience a traumatic event. These events can range from childhood neglect to sexual assault. PTSD symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance of triggers, mood instability, hypervigilance, and negative thoughts about the self, others, or the world.

Traumatic events can be acute (i.e., single isolated event) chronic (i.e., ongoing and repeated), complex (i.e., multiple overlapping), and vicarious (i.e., witnessing another person experience an event). When we do not process these events our pain may feel unacknowledged and it tends to reside in our body and impact our thoughts. Although most people who experience traumatic events do not meet criteria for PTSD, the event may still impact your functioning in other ways. The goal of treatment is to learn how these events have impacted our lives while processing and integrating the experience.

Examples of trauma responses:

Lack of Trust – in yourself such as second guessing decisions or in others

Poor Self-Esteem – intense negative view of self often accompanied with feelings of shame and guilt

Emotion Dysregulation – experiencing emotions strongly throughout the body (e.g., anxiety, shame, anger, sadness) and difficulty returning back to baseline

Interpersonal Difficulties – problems forming or keeping relationships due to lack of trust, fear of abandonment, or feeling disconnected from others

Impulsivity – engaging in risky behaviors without much thought such as frivolous spending or self-harm

Avoidance of Emotions – attempting to “numb” emotions through avoidance, substance use, or in more extreme cases dissociation

Perfectionism – a character trait associated with a strong need and excessive worries about living life the “right” way and perceived control

Chronic Pain – some may present emotional distress and trauma through pain in certain areas of the body (e.g., hips)

How do I treat PTSD and Trauma?

Individualized Treatment Plan – Individuals who experience a traumatic event respond in their own unique way. Some develop severe symptoms of PTSD, while others may have difficulty in romantic relationships. Your history, symptoms, and risk/resilience factors all need to be taken into account when developing a personalized treatment plan. I will work with you to understand how your past currently impacts your present. Discussing past trauma is hard, which is why we will go at your own pace.

Psychoeducation – Many people do not fully grasp how past experiences impact their current functioning. At times, people will experience traumatic events in their life and not see it as trauma because it was not “severe.” I will work with you to provide education on your trauma responses, symptoms of PTSD, and how treatment can be effective.

Modern Evidence-based Treatments – – I was trained at the New Jersey VA in two of the top evidence-based treatments for PTSD. If you are looking for these approaches, I am more than happy to utilize these treatments if it would be beneficial for your symptoms presentation. However, I also engage in less structured psychotherapy for trauma which includes, insight, mindfulness/body awareness, and processing techniques.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – This is a specific type of CBT that has been effective in reducing symptoms of PTSD that have developed after experiencing a variety of traumatic events such as child abuse, military combat, rape or natural disasters. The treatment typically consists of 12 sessions focusing on themes of trust, safety, power/control, intimacy etc… The goal of CPT is to help restructure how you view yourself, others, and the world after a traumatic event by challenging and reframing these beliefs.
  • Prolonged Exposure (PE) – One of the most common symptoms of PTSD is avoidance of memories, feelings, or trauma reminders (e.g., places). However, when one faces their fears it can reduce symptoms. PE is another type of CBT that allows individuals to gradually approach their trauma-related memories, feelings, and situations. PE typically consists of 8-15 sessions that last 90 minutes each. The individual will learn how past experiences have impacted them, breathing techniques, and then will engage in imaginal exposures and/or in vivo exposures (real life situations).

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37 E. 36th Street


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37 E. 36th Street


Disclaimer: This site should not be construed as therapeutic recommendations or personalized advice. Interaction with this blog does not constitute a therapeutic relationship. This blog aims to provide general information for educational purposes only. It is not intended or implied to supplement or replace the advice of your mental health professional. This information should not be used to self-diagnose mental health conditions. Consult with your mental health provider before implementing anything read here.