Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a response to a profoundly distressing event. People go through re-experiencing of the event, exhibit numb feelings, engage in avoidance, and are often in a state of hyper-arousal. PTSD arises if a person processes a traumatic event in such a way (or its consequences in such a way) that generates a sense of current threat. Individuals with PTSD struggle with unhelpful thoughts about the event (and/or its consequences) along with behaviors of trying to push the thoughts of the trauma out of one’s mind. In addition, people tend to avoid reminders and feelings associated of the trauma. The combination not only maintains symptoms, but prolongs the processing of the memories in such a way where they can be filed away with healthy appraisals of the event.
Evidence reveals that CBT is a safe and effective intervention for both acute and chronic PTSD following a range of traumatic experiences for adults and adolescents. It helps to fully process the trauma, reduce re-experiencing of the event(s), assist in accurately appraising one’s level of safety, and to better re-engage back into the previous goal-directed activities.