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“What’s the best way to treat PTSD symptoms?”, is a question I often get asked. It’s a fantastic question. When you figure out what’s wrong you want to know exactly what’s the quickest, most efficient and accurate way to fix it. If only trauma and PSTD had one single way to move through the darkness and back out into the light.
So, I wish I had a fantastic answer. But I don’t. The truth: There is no “best” way to heal PTSD. Unfortunately (or, fortunately, as I’ve come to believe) there are as many ways to heal as there are survivors. Here’s why….
You are unique. Let’s start with your brain, which has evolved, developed and grown in specific response to the experiences you have had in your life. Only you could have your brain because only you have experienced the life and circumstances you have. Add to that the fact that your personality is yours alone. What you need, want, like and dislike will all be individual to you. When considered these things that make you an individual can be useful in creating a recovery process that’s most in alignment with who you are.
Your trauma response is unique. What seems traumatic to one person may not be traumatic to another. Or, one person can access resilience after a trauma while the same experience puts someone else into a symptom-driven tailspin. Whatever it is, your personal response to trauma is valid. It comes from the sum of what you’ve experienced, what you as a child observed as a stress response, your personality and what your neurophysiology is. Your stress response cannot be predicted by anyone else; nor can your recovery. Because your trauma response is unique what you need in order to heal will be unique too.
What makes you feel better is unique. After trauma every survivor needs to (re)claim a sense of safety and control. After that, we’re all different in what we need to be able to move forward. Learning to live in a world that has proved to be dangerous, surprising, unpredictable and uncertain is a big challenge. What makes you feel connected and comfortable in your place in the world will depend on your private ideas, philosophies, desires and dreams.
There are many ways of healing the wounds of the past, and many practitioners trained in different techniques. From traditional talk therapy to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Dialectical Behavior Therapy there are many traditional approaches that can bring relief. When those don’t hit the mark, there are tons of alternative approaches waiting to be discovered from energy processing, hypnosis, neuro-linguistic programming and somatic experiencing.
I’ve come to think that it’s lucky that there are so many ways to heal. In my own journey, I got to a point when I just didn’t want to talk about my past anymore. I still had symptoms and needed a new approach – which I found: With a combination of both traditional and alternative modalities I finally made it to freedom.
In recovery it’s important to honor your uniqueness. Too often we (or those around us, professionally or socially) expect ourselves to fit into a mold. The fact is, there is no mold for PTSD recovery. It’s not like bronchitis and we can all take an antibiotic and expect to feel better in 72 hours. Instead, we find strength in respecting what processes, modalities and approaches resonate with us in recovery and then put them together in a pattern that creates a program that allows us to move forward. (For ideas about PTSD treatment, click here.)
In your own recovery, the real question to be asking is, “What are my options?” And searching out all of the approaches available to you, researching them, choosing which ones you feel comfortable with and then trying them one by one until you find the combination that allows you to feel better because ultimately the best way to heal PTSD is the way that works for you.
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