What is Trauma?
Trauma is the psychological term for effects of intense, negative events on the mind.
Some people live with the effects of trauma from a single, intense event, such as an assault, accident, or combat. Such an event can occur at any age. When this results in a specific set of symptoms, the person is diagnosed with PTSD.
Other persons struggle with complex trauma: the exposure of children to multiple traumatic events, often over a period of many years. Such trauma can result from several discreet events, or constant abuse or neglect.
What are the Effects of Trauma?
Not everyone responds to trauma in the same way. Some persons probably have biological or genetic vulnerabilities which make them respond to traumatic events more strongly than others. Some persons experience multiple types of trauma throughout their lives, which eventually overwhelms their ability to cope.
In some cases, persons may re-experience the traumatic events in the form of flashbacks, nightmares, or intrusive thoughts. In the case of violence or abuse, trauma often damages our ability to have healthy relationships. The effects of such intense experiences may fade with time, but often leaves lasting damage that can affect a persons life deeply unless they seek treatment.
Our clinicians are experienced in working with trauma. We only use techniques backed by research, which means that you are more likely to get the results you hope for. Contact us today for a free phone consultation, or to schedule an appointment with a clinician to learn more about trauma therapy.
Learn About Childhood Trauma And Abuse
Childhood trauma and abuse is very common, and the effects are profound. Whereas PTSD can be caused by one traumatic event, abuse often occurs over long periods of time. Different types of abuse include:
Sometimes a child is the victim of one perpetrator of abuse. Other times, they may be subject to different types of abuse from different abusers. When someone grows up in an abusive environment, they often encounter more abusers as they grow up. For example, a child who is physically and emotionally abused is more likely to attract abuse romantic partners later in life.
The effects of childhood trauma and abuse are numerous and profound. Relationship difficulties are common. Depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and many other problems.
At FRTC, we are experienced in treating persons that have experienced childhood abuse. Contact us to see if we can help with childhood abuse and trauma therapy.
Learn About Domestic Violence Trauma
Domestic violence, sometimes called intimate partner violence, is a very common form of trauma estimated to affect 1/3 of all women at some point in their life. Common forms of domestic violence include:
Physical violence: hitting or otherwise hurting or threatening to hurt.
Sexual assault and rape: unwanted sexual acts.
Verbal abuse: the use of degrading language, name calling, and humiliation.
Limiting contact with others: forbidding someone from speaking to friends or family, or not allowing them to leave the house alone.
Economic control: forcing someone to be economically dependent by restricting their access to money.
Domestic violence often follows a common pattern of tension building, abuse, followed by reconciliation. This pattern can be very difficult to escape from.
Treating domestic violence victims psychoeducation about the cycle of abuse. It also usually requires underlying beliefs about the self and about relationships that tends to lead one into unhealthy relationships.
At FRTC, we are experienced treating both those who have experienced domestic violence, and those that have committed it. Contact us to see if we can help.
What is Prolonged Exposure?
You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.
Prolonged Exposure (PE) is an effective treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The basic idea underlying exposure therapies is that repeated exposure to the thoughts, feelings, and situations around a trauma memory reduces the distress around the memory. Most people that experience a trauma avoid things that remind them of the trauma, but this prevents them from learning that the danger has passed.
The client in Prolonged Exposure (PE) therapy first learns some skills to handle distressing situations. Then, they are "exposed" to trauma-related memories, situations, and sensations. It can be unpleasant and uncomfortable, but the exposures are introduced gradually and with the support of the therapist, and the client should never feel overwhelmed. With time, the client finds they experience less distress when recalling their traumatic experiences. The clients "learn" that the things they previously avoided are, in fact, not dangerous. As this occurs, the other symptoms of PTSD tend to reduce as well.
What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy + Prolonged Exposure?
DBT-PE combines Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) with a technique called Prolonged Exposure (PE), a treatment for trauma. It is a multi-stage process.
Stage 1: Dialectical Behavior Therapy
In this stage, the client receives DBT therapy. This stage may last several months before the client is able to proceed to the next stage.
Stage 2: Dialectical Behavior Therapy with Prolonged Exposure
In this stage, the client continues to practice their DBT skills.
A trauma treatment technique called Prolonged exposure (PE) is introduced to address PTSD symptoms. There are several substages.
Pre-exposure (2-3 Weeks): This phase introduces the concepts of PE, and prepares the client to practice PE.
Exposure (8+ Weeks): In this phase, clients practice PE. The length of this phase varies greatly, depending on the needs of the client. It generally lasts at least 8 weeks.
Consolidation and Relapse Prevention (1-2 Weeks): In this phase, strategies for relapse prevention are emphasized. At this point, the client should be experiencing minimal PTSD related symptoms.
Stage 3: Dialectical Behavior Therapy
In this stage, the client returns to regular DBT.
Who Can Benefit From DBT-PE?
Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable.
Many persons with a history of trauma or diagnosed PTSD fail to receive effective treatment. One reason is the high co-morbidity of PTSD with other disorders- which means people with PTSD are often struggling with other issues. These issues can include suicidal thoughts or attempts, borderline personality disorder, difficulty controlling emotions, substance abuse, relationship problems, and other issues that may be well addressed through dialectical behavior therapy.
Among those who have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD), up to 79% of individuals also have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Individuals with both BPD and PTSD are at a high risk for suicide, with rates of suicide attempts two to five times higher than those with BPD or PTSD alone.
Research has shown that the presence of PTSD has been found to increase emotion dysregulation in those with BPD, and when left untreated, PTSD increases the risk of suicidal and self-injurious behaviors while also interfering with recovery.
Several studies have concluded that DBT Prolonged Exposure (PE) is more effective than DBT alone in managing symptoms of both PTSD and BPD with better outcomes one year after treatment
Research has shown DBT-PE is safe and effective at reducing PTSD symptoms, suicidal and self-injurious behaviors, dissociation, shame, guilt, depression, and social impairment.
By combining DBT with PTSD treatment, DBT-PE addresses all the issues together in a complimentary way. Our DBT-PE sessions are run by trained dialectical behavior therapy, trauma, and borderline personalty disorder therapists.