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Resolving PTSD with CBT and Schema

Frustrated female

Resolving Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Exploring therapies that can help, like CBT, Schema and Dialectical-behaviour Therapy

Examining the statistics around PTSD shows just how important an issue it is in our society today. It might be somewhat startling to discover that an astonishing 70% of people have experienced some kind of traumatic event at least once in their lives. Up to 20% of these people can go on to develop PTSD. And it’s also important to note that 1 in 9 women develops PTSD – which makes them twice as likely as men to experience the condition.

In this article we’re going to explore methods of treating PTSD, like CBT and Schema, and show you that there is absolutely light at the end of the tunnel.

First of all, what is PTSD?

As defined in the A-Z issues section of our website, PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can be caused by experiencing distressing, traumatic events. The type of events that can cause PTSD are road traffic accidents, violent assaults, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, prolonged sexual abuse, violence or severe neglect. This may give obvious symptoms like pain, trembling or disruption to sleep or less obvious symptoms such as avoidance or emotional numbing.

Types of PTSD

At the Chelsea Psychology Clinic, our specialist consultants are highly experienced in handling a broad range of Post Traumatic Stress Disorders. From less severe cases, where a person has recurring dreams that begin after a relationship breaks down, to more extreme cases, of soldiers who are psychologically shattered by orders they’ve carried out during war, PTSD comes in various forms.

As explained by Mind UK, it’s possible to experience:

  • Delayed-onset PTSD: where symptoms emerge six months after a traumatic event.
  • Complex PTSD: which can arise due to childhood abuse, neglect or abandonment; on-going domestic abuse, repeatedly witnessing abuse or violence; torture, kidnapping, slavery or events relating to war.
  • Birth Trauma: which can arise due to a difficult labour with a long and painful delivery; an unplanned c-section, emergency treatment or other unexpected experiences during birth.

Treating PTSD

Left untreated, PTSD can really affect the quality of your life. People with the disorder usually suffer from a lack of sleep due to flashbacks or nightmares. They also find that they aren’t able to bring their best self to their relationships and sometimes find it difficult to work.

As Dr Emma Smith explains, depending on the type of trauma you have experienced, it’s possible for healing to occur within a few months of sessions.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and Schema

Here at the Chelsea Psychology Clinic we’ve found that combining CBT and Schema therapy can be particularly effective for the treatment of PTSD. In the early stages of therapy CBT can both help with the management of symptoms that stem from traumatic experiences but also offers the possibility for the trauma to be treated through an ‘exposure based’ approach that can desensitise the individual to the impact of the traumatic event on them.

Schema therapy can be more helpful for people who experienced recurrent trauma in childhood. Its imagery rescripting technique has been widely used to help with changing early malaptive core schemas and facilitating healing from developmental trauma.

Dialetical-behaviour Therapy (DBT)

DBT is a multi-layered and structured approach that focuses on addressing problems one domain at a time, in order of priority. While DBT is recognised as a gold standard approach for individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder, there are adaptations of DBT that can be used specifically for PTSD. As Dr Sarah Spronson explains, this form of therapy equips an individual with very robust coping skills to handle symptoms and changes in behaviour.

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR therapy helps clients process distressing memories by a combination of physically moving the eyes while tuning in to and holding distressing memories in their consciousness at the same time. When successful, clients are able to change the meaning of painful events and integrate memories on an emotional level.

This form of therapy is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and is an effective treatment for PTSD. EMDR can be delivered as a therapy in its own right, or in combination with other techniques. Your therapist will continue to work with you on specific memories until the intensity associated with them decreases. You can learn more about EMDR within our therapies section.

We’ve helped many clients through the difficulties that arise due to PTSD. If you are unsure whether the symptoms you’re dealing with constitute PTSD, or perhaps another condition, then please do contact us for a confidential chat.