PTSD Treatment Categories
This blog post explores the most common PTSD treatment categories. I'll cover:
- Coping and Supportive Management Treatments
- Strengthening and Tone Work Treatments
- Healing and Resolution Treatments
- Medication-Assisted Treatments
- Rebuilding and Establishing a Meaningful Life
- Technology-Assisted Treatments
- Bottom-Up Treatments
- Dual Focus Treatments
- Mixed Approach Treatments
Coping and Supportive Management Treatments
- Copying and supportive management treatments help PTSD survivors adapt to their symptoms and minimize life disruption.
- The most common treatments in this category are relaxation training, breath training, support groups, peer to peer intervention.
- Medication is used in this category to control specific symptoms related to PTSD such as depression, anger, anxiety, sleep disturbance, nightmares.
- For most PTSD survivors, the relief experienced by coping techniques does not last past the last dose of these treatments.
Strengthening and Tone Work Treatments
- Strengthening and Tone Work interventions help PTSD survivors tolerate negative affect and physical discomfort.
- This treatment ensures therapy is productive, and PTSD survivors do not retreat into avoidance or substance use to manage overwhelming symptoms.
- The skills taught in this category are referred to as Affect Regulation or Distress Tolerance.
- These interventions are often used to prepare a PTSD survivor for the more challenging work of healing and trauma resolution.
- Many types of affect regulation therapies and bodywork techniques begin in this category and cross into the category of healing or resolution.
Healing and Resolution Treatments
- Healing and Resolution techniques directly attempt to return the brain to pre-trauma functioning or allow a new integration of the trauma, most often by directly dealing with traumatic memories in session.
- New interventions have been emerging that allow psychotherapy to be more productive.
- These take the form of pharmacologically-based interventions paired with psychotherapy.
- This medication is building support for being able to block traumatic re-experience during recall.
- When combined with therapy, this allows for faster processing to resolve painful affect.
- D-cycloserine helps PTSD survivors let go of fear.
- MDMA (Methylenedioxymethamphetamine)
- MDMA began clinical trials.
- MDMA is typically combined with exposure or interpersonal therapy.
- MDMA is administered before therapy, which triggers intensely pleasurable feelings.
- Once the PTSD survivor is in a relaxed state, they work through the traumatic events in psychotherapy.
Rebuilding and Establishing a Meaningful Life
- Interventions that seek to move a client back to a productive life are occupational therapy, spiritual explorations, and interpersonal or vocational interventions.
- Virtual Reality is primarily a version of prolonged exposure. Evidence is beginning to support this as a possible intervention for PTSD when combined with PE or other types of exposure intervention.
- Telephonic and Remote Video interventions are increasingly being used to allow traditional interventions to reach clients who cannot easily travel to the clinic for service.
- Cognitive Processing Therapy is the most researched group intervention. Research supports the positive impact of behavioural family group interventions for child abuse trauma.
- Present Centred Group Therapy helps group members separate PTSD symptoms and trauma experience from their present life. This group approach has considerable research support.
- These treatments use a cognitive processing technique to manage trauma.
- The most common of these is cognitive-behavioural therapy.
- A variation of CBT designed explicitly for trauma is Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), which targets both trauma recall and challenging of disordered thinking.
- These treatments use body-based interventions to introduce incompatible sensations or spatial awareness as a tool for conflicting information.
- A partial list of these interventions with research support includes yoga, mindfulness or moving meditation, Tai chi/Qi Gong, somatic experiencing, somatic therapy, acupuncture/acupressure.
- Multiple Studies with children showed a combination mind-body approach is an effective treatment.
- Neurofeedback or EEG Biofeedback is one of the oldest techniques with research support.
- Current research shows impressive results with higher symptom resolution for bottom-up therapies.
Mixed Approach Treatments
- These techniques use a combination of bottom-up and top-down treatments.
- Hypnosis, cognitive reframes, guided imagery, and relaxation are mixed in this treatment.