Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) develops after exposure to a traumatic event or ongoing traumatic happenings such as an accident, natural disaster, sexual assault, war, abuse, or other severe stressors.
PTSD causes a person to relive the experience through flashbacks or nightmares, avoidance behavior, having negative thoughts regarding the trauma, and having a sense of heightened awareness, such as hypervigilant behaviors or exaggerated startle response.
Therapists use multiple counseling interventions to treat PTSD, including Cognitive Processing Therapy, Prolonged Exposure, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). Cognitive Processing Therapy involves reframing negative thoughts about the traumatic experience. Prolonged Exposure involves gradually exposing the person to thoughts about the trauma to gain control of their thoughts. EMDR involves cross stimulation while slowly focusing on details of the trauma, aiming to reduce the power of the negative thoughts.