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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

People that have experienced life threatening situations can suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is present when people persistently re-experience the traumatic event, avoid stimuli associated with the trauma and experience symptoms of increased arousal. These symptoms often cause severe problems in daily life.

 

Treatment

PTSD is treated with cognitive behavioural therapy. Specific methods are exposure therapy, EMDR and writing assignments to help process the traumatic experience. Together with your therapist you will decide which method is indicated.

 

Exposure therapy

During the exposure therapy you will tell the story of the traumatic event repeatedly, in the present time. Your story will be recorded and between sessions you are required to listen to the tape on a daily basis. By doing this the strong emotions will fade and PTSD symptoms will diminish.

 

EMDR:

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). With this treatment you will start to process traumatic memories. The therapist will ask you to think back to the most difficult image of the traumatic experience and distract you at the same time. The therapist can distract by moving his hand from left to right before your eyes. Within a short period of time you will notice that the weight of the memory will fade. Next to this you won’t think of much of the bad memories and have fewer nightmares. The advantage of this treatment is that home assignments are not necessary. Another advantage is that processing can take place without having to discuss every detail of the traumatic event.

Writing assignments

Processing of traumatic events can take place with the help of writing assignments. By writing down your story you will collect your thoughts which gives you the experience of control over the timeline of events, which in turn will decrease strong emotions. We often work with the ‘3 letter method’. With this method you write three versions of your story. In the first letter you write down all your thoughts and feelings in an uncensored way. In the second and third letter you will work on a more dignified version that someone else might be able to read. For the effectiveness of the therapy it is not important to send the letters but to process the events.