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How Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) Can Help Heal PTSD

Cognitive behavioural therapy


If you’ve been through or witnessed a traumatic event, it may have led to a variety of cognitive, behavioral and physiological symptoms like flashbacks, avoidance, nightmares, and intense anxiety. These are all characteristic traits of the psychological condition called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Many mental health professionals and various treatment guidelines emphasize CBT or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy as an effective therapeutic approach for post-traumatic stress disorder treatment (PTSD). CBT for PTSD can help you bring awareness about the unhealthy thought patterns and associated emotions that you may have developed as a result of your trauma. You can make meaningful behavioral changes, develop healthy coping skills and improve your quality of life.

How does CBT for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Treatment work?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) will help you to address your thinking patterns and behaviors that are linked to the traumatic event you experienced. The CBT approach will encourage you to identify and challenge your unhelpful negative thoughts related to the trauma and allow you to gradually shift towards a more balanced perspective. Processing traumatic memories in the therapy room with your therapist can help reduce the emotional charge associated with those memories. CBT techniques will help you learn ways to confront situations and activities that you have been avoiding as a result of the trauma and encourage you to gradually return to a more normal life.

CBT will also equip you with practical coping skills and problem-solving strategies, which will allow you to manage your stress and anxiety effectively. Learning mindfulness techniques will help you focus on the present moment, further reducing the impact of past trauma. Your therapist and you will progress at a pace which is well suited for you and which will encourage you to move towards improved well-being. CBT for PTSD can help you cope effectively with the aftermath of your traumatic experience and will assist you in modifying your thoughts and behaviors to make meaningful changes.

CBT Techniques commonly used for PTSD Treatment

Cognitive Restructuring: This technique will help you identify and challenge your unhelpful thoughts or in other words cognitive distortions related to the traumatic event. It is common for individuals with PTSD to have negative beliefs about self, others, and the world. Through cognitive restructuring, your therapist will work with you to reframe and replace these unhelpful beliefs with more balanced thought patterns.

Exposure Therapy: It is common for individuals experiencing PTSD to engage in avoidance behaviors especially when they are reminded of the previous traumatic situation. Exposure therapy will help you to reduce the anxiety and fear associated with these memories by having you gradually and safely confront and process traumatic memories and situations. Exposure can be done through imagination (discussing the trauma or visualization) or in vivo exposure (gradual and systematic facing the trauma-related stimuli).

Psychoeducation: Building awareness and knowledge about the different aspects of PTSD will allow you to handle your situation better. Right education from a seasoned therapist can help you understand your specific triggers, your stress response and equip you with tools to manage stress and practice relaxation.

Mindfulness and Grounding Techniques: Dissociation or feeling disconnected from yourself or the present moment is a trauma response which is common in individuals with PTSD. CBT incorporates mindfulness practices and teaches grounding techniques to help you stay connected to the present which will further aid in reducing the impact of intrusive memories and flashbacks.

While cognitive behavioral therapy is an evidence-based approach and very effective for treating PTSD, it’s effectiveness can vary from person to person. Some individuals may benefit more from a combination of therapeutic approaches or may find other evidence-based treatments, such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), helpful. A qualified mental health professional can tailor the treatment to your specific needs and circumstances.

If you’re interested in learning more about CBT for PTSD to see if it’s right for you, you can schedule a free 20-minute consultation with one of our therapists today! You can also click on this link to view our highly qualified clinicians, and put your mental health first today.


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