PTSD Professional Perspective: Advances in PTSD Recovery Methods

By Jenn Pedde

Advances in PTSD Recovery Methods
The type of trauma that can cause Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), varies from person to person, but can range from being involved in a life-threatening situation, such as war, to sexual abuse, to witnessing a violent crime. PTSD often results in the sufferer experiencing flashbacks of the traumatic event or having nightmares relating to the event. Other symptoms include difficulty sleeping, increased anger and hyper-vigilance.

Many PTSD sufferers find the medications used to treat the condition to be ineffective; however, there are new, alternative methods that are helping sufferers cope with and overcome the disorder.

Information Processing Therapy
According to the Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Institute, traumatic events can interfere with effective information processing because the strong negative emotions tied to the event prevent the person from being able to use adaptive information from their memory networks. Without this adaptive information, the person is unable to effectively cope with the event. The goal of information processing therapy is to essentially “rewire” the brain and how it processes specific events and stores memories. Some information processing treatment methods are as follows:

  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): During an EMDR session, patients think about the traumatic event and then rate the level of disturbance on a scale of 1 to 10. The therapist then walks the patient through a series of eye movements, and then repeats the process until the level of disturbance is reduced.
  • Thought Field Therapy (TFT): Practitioners use a tapping technique, similar to acupuncture, to relax the body and remove negative energy associated with the trauma.
  • Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT): EFT works to stimulate meridian points where energy in the body may have slowed or gotten stuck during or after a traumatic event. Through the therapy, the energy is released and is able to flow naturally again, which restores the sufferer to the normal state prior to the traumatic event. EFT is performed while the sufferer consciously thinks of the traumatic event.
  • Tapas Acupressure Technique (TAT): During TAT treatment, PTSD sufferers make declarative statements about acceptance of the traumatic event, as well as the forgiveness that is necessary to overcome said event, all while placing hands in strategic places around the eyes and the back of the head.

Hypnosis is also an effective therapy option for those who suffer from PTSD. During hypnosis, hypnotherapists use the power of suggestion to reframe the sufferer’s feelings surrounding the traumatic event without focusing too much on the past. Through hypnotherapy, the brain is essentially retrained in the path it takes to view the event and the emotions that have developed around it.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming
Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) treatment is similar to hypnosis in that it does not focus on the past event that caused the trauma, but rather the present and future, to help the sufferer redirect his or her focus. During NLP treatment, language is used to “redesign” memories and the feelings surrounding those memories. The creation of new feelings surrounding the events obviously will not change the past, but patients are better equipped to cope with the situation that caused the trauma because they no longer have the traumatic feelings associated with the event. NLP treatment involves isolating specific thoughts surrounding the traumatic event, identifying specific ways in which these thoughts negatively impact the sufferer’s life and then redirecting the negative thoughts towards positive ones.

This post is written by Jenn Pedde, the community manager for the Masters of Social Work Program at the University of Southern California, which has one of the nation’s leading military social work concentrations. Recently, the msw program published a PTSD infographic for PTSD Awareness Day.  Jenn is also an avid traveler and loves photography.

The opinions in this post are solely those of the author. To contribute to ‘Professional Perspective’ contact Michele.


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