Trauma and post trauma stress disorder (ptsd) treatment 

Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety, but any situation that leaves a person feeling overwhelmed and alone can be traumatic, even if it does not involve physical harm. The most important factor in determining trauma is the individual’s emotional experience of the event. Ultimately, traumatic events lead to a loss of one’s sense of security.  For detailed information on who gets PTSD and why, and how they come back to normal, read David Campell, MD's Trauma Series.

Our trauma and ptsd treatment center

We serve adults whose symptoms are severe enough to cause significant impairment in the activities of daily living; including work, school, family and social functioning. These symptoms include:

  • Intense emotion and reactivity
  • Severe fear, anxiety, or depression
  • Trouble functioning at home or work
  • Avoidance behavior
  • Disrupted eating and sleeping patterns
  • Intrusive thoughts or images
  • Inability to form close, satisfying relationships
  • Terrifying memories, nightmares or flashbacks
  • Emotional numbness
  • Addictive use of alcohol or drugs
  • Unrelenting guilt, shame, self-blame
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Confusion, difficulty concentrating
  • Withdrawal and disconnection from others
  • Obsessive thought patterns that may manifest as compulsions, addictions and codependency

Mind Therapy Clinic's Trauma Treatment Program 

What makes this program unique?

Mind Therapy Clinic provides comprehensive, personalized and integrated treatment of trauma through our range of outpatient services, Intensive Outpatient Program, and Partial Hospitalization Program. Care is tailored to each client's needs, specific diagnoses, types of issues and severity. Clients can move between different levels of treatment depending on their needs as well as different types of trauma therapy as appropriate. We have an exceptional staff of experienced physicians, nurse practitioners, doctoral-level psychologists and master’s-level therapists specializing in a full range of evidence-based trauma treatments.

For clients interested in joining our intensive treatment programs who do not live locally, Mind Therapy Clinic collaborates with skilled adult housing providers. If you need housing, please ask us for assistance.

A comprehensive set of trauma treatment plan

 

Trauma and PTSD Treatment Options and Methods

CBT [Cognitive Behavior Therapy]

People who have been exposed to a traumatic event often have erroneous thoughts that haunt them and affect how they think about themselves and the world.  These recurring thoughts are a major factor in causing distress.  CBT is a skill-based treatment that helps people change the way they think about their trauma.  It is based on the idea that thoughts cause feelings and behaviors — changing your thoughts changes how you feel. 

Methods include talking and writing about your emotions — such as anger, sadness and guilt, questioning the fixed ways of thinking about the trauma, and understanding ways that your life has been affected by the trauma.  The goal is to gain a new perspective on the past event.  When this is successful, there can be improved sense of safety, trust, control, and self-esteem.  

PE [Prolonged Exposure therapy]

While CBT focuses on thoughts, PE focuses on the feelings (panic, fear, anger, anxiety) that occur after a traumatic event.  PE Therapy includes an educational component, breath training for relaxation, and use of exposure to reminders of the trauma.  Exposure may be imagined, such as recalling and describing the traumatic event in great detail; or, real world experiences, such as visiting the intersection where a car accident occurred.  When successful, the repeated exposure causes the emotional reactivity to reminders of the trauma to gradually subside.   

EMDR [Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing therapy]

EMDR therapy facilitates the processing of traumatic memories by use of brief sets of alternating left/right stimuli while the client is instructed to think about their traumatic event.  After each set of stimuli the client reports their emotional and bodily response, which then guides the content of the next set.   

Various types of alternating stimuli may be used:  i) moving your eyes side to side as you follow a moving light (or the therapist’s fingers), ii) holding a small paddle in each hand that vibrates in alternating fashion, iii) using headphones that deliver a brief sound that alternates from side to side, or iv) a combination of these.

Through a brain mechanism that is not fully understood, the traumatic thoughts and images becomes less and less disturbing with successive rounds of stimulation.  EMDR also addresses negative beliefs that formed about the self as a result of the trauma.  With successful treatment, the client can recall the past trauma with little to no distress and the negative emotional meaning that was once attached to the painful event can transform into something more positive and self-empowering. 

Somatic Psychotherapy

Somatic Experiencing ™ (SE) and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy™ (SP) are two well-established practices of body-centered treatment for the effects of trauma.  [5,6]

Unlike the first three methods described that treat trauma as a problem of cognitions and emotions, these trauma-focused somatic therapies approach the effects of trauma as a physiologic dysregulation of the nervous system.  By working with the body as a primary avenue in processing trauma, somatic therapies can work directly with sensation and movement to affect symptoms and promote change.  [7]

The instinctual response of fight/flight/freeze that is invoked during trauma, as well as later during reminders of the trauma, derives from the midbrain (limbic center), which is below conscious awareness.  Its influence is transmitted to the body via the autonomic nervous system (ANS) as well as the endocrine system, which signals the release of stress hormones.

In PTSD there is an imbalance of sympathetic and parasympathetic activity within the ANS with tendencies toward a state of either hyper- or hypo-arousal.  The initial goal of treatment is to restore the ability of the client to regulate these extreme states. Doing so addresses feelings of safety and self-control that are missing in many traumatized persons. 

Since sensation is the language of the ANS, it is the entry point for therapeutic change.  Clients are taught to track their own levels of arousal as indicated by changes in body sensation.  Then, when triggering events occur and they are able to recognize the earliest signs of hyper- or hypo-arousal, learned somatic resources can be applied to help maintain arousal within tolerable limits. 

At first, the therapist serves as an external biological regulator for the client as these skills are learned.  Once the client is able to maintain himself or herself within a tolerable level of arousal in response to triggering events, he or she is ready for the next stage of treatment: the processing of traumatic memories.  This can only be done within an optimal state of arousal (not too little and not too much) in order for the process material to be integrated.  This requires careful tracking by the therapist as small  “slivers” of traumatic memories are recalled and the body responses managed without overwhelm. [8]

With practice in and out of the session, this approach to trauma treatment helps expand the client’s self-regulatory abilities by disrupting the learned responses to trauma cues and replacing them with new experiences.  By encouraging practice of these new responses to old triggers in daily life, maladaptive patterns can eventually be replaced with new behaviors and clients can start to feel like themselves once again.

 

Resuming life with a restored sense of self

Those struggling to recover from all manners of trauma - physical, emotional, spiritual - often report a loss of sense of integrity and wholeness. Mind Therapy Clinic’s treatment seeks to empower our clients to resume life with a restored sense of self. 

  • Physical and psychological treatments aimed at calming the nervous system
  • Identifying and working through the psychological sources of trauma
  • Desensitization to painful triggers
  • Developing effective coping skills and strategies
  • Improving support through more effective interpersonal communication and more functional family systems
 

What Mind Therapy Clinic's clients say...
 
It was hard for me to seek out therapy... 

“As a physician, it was very hard for me to seek out therapy during a very sick crisis in my mental health.  From the moment I arrived at the clinic, I felt safe and hopeful.  Dr. Schiller's ability to listen, process, and use a combination of scientific research and a pure gift for healing is unprecedented and amazing.  I have recommended him and the clinic to many people."

— S.C.

It felt great to finally get all of my difficult feelings out in a safe environment. 

“This experience showed me how to be in connection with my daughter and my family and the kinds of tools I need to stay connected. It felt great to finally get all my difficult feelings out in a safe environment.”

— A dad

I've been able to address past traumas and integrate new strategies...

“I enjoy working with Shea and look forward to my session with her each week. She is remarkably kind, insightful and has a gentle but deft style of helping patients. She helped me nurture the aspects of myself that allow me to be successful and make my life so much easier. With her support, I've been able to address past traumas and integrate new strategies to manage and reduce my anxiety and attention issues. She's had an immeasurably positive impact in my life and I'm a better person as a result of my work with Shea.

— A