The American Psychiatric Association reveals that approximately 1 in 11 individuals will experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at some point in their lives. This condition, which can arise in anyone regardless of age or background, emerges following a traumatic event.
Experiencing PTSD often leads to a feeling of losing control over one’s life, but short-term and long-term psychotherapy has proven to be effective in managing PTSD. In recent times, online therapy for PTSD has emerged as a viable option, offering greater accessibility and convenience.
This article offers an overview of different online PTSD therapy approaches, guiding you to make informed decisions for your therapeutic journey.
Table of Contents
What Is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychological condition that arises following the experience or observation of a distressing event. Although immediate symptoms are common after such events, some individuals find these symptoms persisting and intensifying, significantly disrupting their daily lives.
Typically, PTSD symptoms emerge within three months of the trauma, though they can appear later.
Common triggers leading up to PTSD include:
- Exposure to war
- Domestic abuse
- Childhood physical assault
- Sexual assault
- Serious accidents
What To Expect From PTSD Therapy?
PTSD treatment focuses on helping individuals process their memories healthily. This therapy comprises four recovery stages, each offering a glimpse into what the journey toward healing can look like under the guidance of an online PTSD therapist:
1. The Impact Stage
This stage follows immediately after a trauma. It’s normal to experience intense and confusing emotions, such as shock or numbness, making it difficult to process the event during this time. The severity and impact of the trauma can lead to varying symptoms. Seeking professional help early in this stage is crucial, as it can significantly reduce the symptoms of PTSD and accelerate the journey toward recovery.
2. The Rescue Stage
This is the second stage when you start to confront the details of the traumatic event. Despite possibly experiencing anxiety, anger, or hopelessness, you’ll gradually find it easier to face and address the trauma’s root cause as you progress through this stage.
3. The Intermediate Recovery Stage
During this stage, you’ll notice substantial improvements in your symptoms and daily functioning, potentially resuming work or school with reduced distress. It includes developing healthy coping mechanisms and building new relationships. The process may be gradual but it leads to a supportive network of people who understand your experiences. You’ll also learn strategies to handle new challenges that emerge during your adjustment period.
4. The Reconstruction Stage
In the final stage of PTSD recovery, you focus on your future, having made substantial progress in treatment. While some symptoms may persist, they are managed with a therapist as you set new goals.
How Does Online PTSD Therapy Work?
A study indicates that active interventions positively affect PTSD symptoms. These encompass few commonly used techniques all of which are different forms of of cognitive behavioral therapy:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Explores the connections between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, focusing on present symptoms and problems. Its goal is to modify patterns in behavior, thought, and emotion that lead to functional challenges.
- Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT): This is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy, and teaches patients to challenge and alter unhelpful beliefs tied to their trauma. Typically conducted over 12 sessions, CPT enables patients to reframe and understand the traumatic event differently, thereby lessening its negative impact on their current life.
- Stress Inoculation Training (SIT): This form of cognitive behavioral therapy, spans about three months with weekly sessions lasting 60 to 90 minutes each. Offered in individual or group settings, SIT doesn’t require discussing trauma details unless chosen. It emphasizes breathing techniques, meditation, and strategies to counter negative thoughts related to PTSD and other anxiety disorders.
- Cognitive Therapy: As a branch of cognitive behavioral therapy, this involves altering negative evaluations and memories associated with trauma to disrupt harmful behavior and thought patterns affecting daily life. This therapy is usually conducted in weekly individual or group sessions over a three-month period.
- Prolonged Exposure: This is a specialized cognitive behavioral therapy approach. It helps individuals confront trauma-related memories, feelings, and situations gradually. This process teaches that these trauma-related elements are not dangerous and need not be avoided. Typically administered over three months with weekly individual sessions, these sessions last between 60 to 120 minutes, allowing adequate time for exposure and processing of the traumatic experience.
Tips For Choosing The Right Therapist For PTSD
Selecting an online PTSD therapist who provides a comfortable and safe environment is essential to prevent additional fear regarding the treatment. Making the right choice paves the way for a focused journey towards recovery. Here are four tips to guide you in choosing the therapist best suited to your needs:
1. Look For A Trauma-trained Therapist
The complexity of PTSD treatment and recovery necessitates guidance from a professional, experienced in the science of PTSD symptoms. Check if they are a qualified psychologist or therapist with specialized training in trauma treatment and proven approaches for PTSD.
2. Ask Questions
During your therapist search, it’s beneficial to interview potential therapists to evaluate compatibility. In this interview, make sure to ask a range of essential questions to assess if they’re a good fit for your needs:
What methods do they treat trauma with?
How do the therapy sessions progress?
What is their experience in dealing with PTSD patients?
3. Consult The Online Available Resource
Exploring online resources for PTSD can provide additional support options. This will broaden your understanding and access to effective coping strategies. Some online resources available are:
- National Center for PTSD
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Alliance
- National Institute of Mental Health – PTSD
4. Consider Your Budget
It’s important to evaluate your financial situation and budget. Additionally, check if your insurance covers mental health services. If you intend to use insurance for therapy, start by exploring therapists within your insurance plan’s network.
How to Cope With PTSD on a Daily Basis
Alongside online PTSD therapy, there are daily strategies you can employ to manage your PTSD symptoms. Here are some approaches to consider:
1. Join Support Groups: Gaining support from others is key to recovering from trauma and PTSD. Participating in a professionally led support group can be invaluable for developing new coping skills. These communities offer supportive environments where those with PTSD can connect and share with others who understand their struggles.
2. Follow Your Treatment: Relief from PTSD symptoms through therapy may not be immediate. It’s important to adhere to your treatment plan, even if progress is slower than expected, and discuss any concerns with your provider. While symptoms might continue, learning to manage them can lead to significant life improvements and the development of valuable skills.
3. Grounding Techniques Engaging in regular physical activity helps lower stress levels and manage symptoms. Additionally, grounding techniques are effective in staying present and coping with flashbacks or intrusive thoughts.