Group Treatment and Other Therapies for PTSD

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a relatively new treatment for traumatic memories that involves elements of exposure therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, combined with techniques (eye movements, hand taps, sounds) that create an alternation of attention back and forth across the person's midline. While the theory and research are still evolving for this form of treatment, there is some evidence that the therapeutic element unique to EMDR (known as attentional alternation) may facilitate the accessing and processing of traumatic material.
Group Treatment
Group treatment for PTSD is often an ideal therapeutic setting, because trauma survivors are able to share their experiences within the safety, cohesion, and empathy provided by other survivors. As group members achieve greater understanding and resolution of their trauma, they often feel more confident and able to trust. As they discuss and share how they cope with trauma-related shame, guilt, rage, fear, doubt, and self-condemnation, they prepare themselves to focus on the present rather than the past. Telling one's story (the "trauma narrative") and directly facing the grief, anxiety, and guilt related to trauma enables many survivors to cope with their symptoms, memories, and other aspects of their lives.
Other Psychotherapies
Brief psychodynamic psychotherapy for PTSD focuses on the emotional conflicts caused by the traumatic event, particularly as they relate to early life experiences. Through the retelling of the traumatic event to a calm, empathetic, compassionate, and nonjudgmental therapist, the survivor:
  • Achieves a greater sense of self-esteem
  • Develops effective ways of thinking and coping
  • Learns to deal more successfully with intense emotions.
The therapist helps the survivor identify current life situations that set off traumatic memories and worsen PTSD symptoms.
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