PTSD and Trauma Therapy in Louisville, KY

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Have you had a traumatic event in your life and might need to see a trauma therapist? 

  • Did you face a natural disaster such as a hurricane, earthquake, or tornado? 
  • Have you survived a serious accident?
  • Do you have childhood trauma (Parents who fought often, were emotionally, physically, or sexually abusive, overly critical, neglected you, etc.)? 
  • Have you been sent into war or combat and come out alive?
  • Do you fear talking about your trauma with a trauma therapist?
  • Did you survive a rape? 
  • Were you threatened with death, sexual violence, or serious injury? 
  • Have you been a victim of domestic violence? 
  • Did you experience medical/health related trauma? 
  • Do you have difficulty easing out of “fight, flight, or freeze” mode and getting into a relaxed state? 
  • Are you having difficulty controlling your emotions, feeling anxious, and maintaining relationships? 

If you answered YES to any of the above questions, then a trauma therapist in Louisville, KY can help. Read below to find out how we can help you with PTSD/Trauma treatment.

What is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health diagnosis that is typically caused by a significant traumatic event such as experiencing a destructive hurricane or other natural disaster, witnessing a school shooting or other terrorist act, or being a victim of sexual, physical or mental abuse. The traumatic event can either be actual or threatened.

Although PTSD can be associated with post-war symptoms, it does not only affect war veterans. Anyone can experience PTSD, which affects about 3.5 percent of U.S. adults annually with one in 11 people typically diagnosed with this disorder sometime in their life. PTSD affects twice as many women than men.

Those with PTSD have strong, troubling thoughts and emotions that are tied to a past traumatic event for an extended period of time. Vivid memories or nightmares are common as well as negative feelings like depression or anger. They may be extremely sad or angry as well as distance themselves from family and friends. Normal daily occurrences can be disproportionately disturbing or startling.

A PTSD diagnosis can be tied to a serious traumatic occurrence, but this event might be experienced second-hand rather than direct. For instance, an individual who hears the details about a relative who has experienced a violent rape can experience PTSD in addition to the person actually surviving such an event.

Typical symptoms of PTSD fall into one of four categories:

  • Intrusion: Intrusion includes any unwelcome thoughts like unwanted memories of the event, repeated nightmares, or even flashbacks that feel very real.
  • Avoidance: Avoidance symptoms include staying away from the individuals, locations, or situations that remind the individual of the traumatic event. Affected people may not want to discuss thoughts or feelings about the trauma at all.
  • Changes in Cognition and Mood: Some PTSD clients cannot remember important details of the traumatic event or experience persistent negative thoughts and emotions that distort beliefs. They may have inaccurate explanations about the causes or consequences of the trauma or experience ongoing fear, shame or guilt that affects their daily life. They are often estranged from others and withdraw from activities and relationships.
  • Changes in Arousal and Reactivity: Those experiencing PTSD might have outbursts of anger, act in reckless ways, or be particularly fearful and suspicious. Ordinary noises may startle individuals in extreme ways. They may find it hard to concentrate on daily tasks or have trouble sleeping.

What is Complex Trauma?

PTSD-Therapist-Louisville-CounselingComplex trauma is the result of a child’s exposure to multiple traumatic events growing up as well as the extensive, long-term effects of these repeated events. Unfortunately, the events related to complex trauma are usually serious and pervasive and often stem from an extremely abusive childhood or serious neglect during early years of development. Because individuals form a sense of self as infants and young children, and since these traumatic events are typically tied to a primary caregiver, complex trauma can significantly affect an individual’s ability to develop secure attachment with others or a physically and mentally healthy life.

What is Cognitive Processing Therapy and How It Can Help

Cognitive processing therapy (CPT) is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that can mitigate PTSD and trauma symptoms. Typically completed during one dozen sessions, CPT helps individuals transform inaccurate beliefs that have resulted from the traumatic event into a new, more accurate, and helpful understanding that can reduce PTSD symptoms.

Patients begin learning about PTSD/trauma as well as the relationships between the trauma and resulting beliefs and symptoms. They then work through their trauma with the therapist through strategies designed to break the patterns of maladaptive thoughts and feelings. Once those skills are learned, patients continue to use them to modify thoughts around traumatic events, which can be continued to improve daily life outside of therapy sessions.

CPT can be used both in individual and group therapy, may involve written or oral processing, and will typically include homework-type assignments. Cognitive Processing Therapy is one of few recommended therapies for trauma by the American Psychological Association.

What is Prolonged Exposure and How It Can Help

Prolonged exposure (PE) is another cognitive behavioral therapy strategy that can help treat PTSD/trauma clients face resulting fears by slowly recalling trauma-related memories, thoughts, and feelings. Although PTSD/trauma victims rightfully want to avoid those things that remind them of the traumatic event, doing so can actually reinforce the fear. PE helps individuals face these fears by helping them realize that memories themselves are not dangerous.

Weekly sessions over a three-month period begin with PE education as well as reviewing the patient’s experiences and teaching some basic anxiety-reducing techniques such as breathing exercises.

Once a level of trust has been established, the trauma therapist begins gradual exposure to the traumatic event by recalling memories and images. Imaginal exposure begins with the individual describing the traumatic event in the present tense while discussing thoughts and feelings that arise. The sessions may be recorded so the client can continue practicing between sessions. The therapist may also recommend in vivo exposure (directly facing a feared object, situation, or activity in real life), which can be completed outside of therapy. The client works with the therapist to choose people, places, activities, or objects that might be connected to the traumatic event and then makes a plan to gradually interface with them.

Complex Trauma Therapy Middletown KY 40243Treat Your PTSD/Trauma Today with the Help of a Trauma Therapist in Louisville, KY, and surrounding areas

The good news is that, when it comes to PTSD/Trauma, the trauma therapists at Grace Psychological Services offer evidence-based treatments that keep your trauma under control. We stay up to date on the latest scientific research and treatments designed for PTSD and other trauma-related disorders. At our practice, a therapist will assess your symptoms to determine if you have PTSD and/or any other mental health concerns. Then, they will customize a treatment plan that will aid your specific type of trauma while guiding you toward your goals. If you are looking for someone trained in Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) or Prolonged Exposure for PTSD or other trauma-related disorders, then Grace Psychological Services may be a good fit for you.

Most of our clients come to us after working tirelessly trying to avoid their trauma. They try to suppress their anxiety, ignore it, distract themselves, or other methods. Unfortunately, those coping methods don’t typically work. The more one uses these poor coping methods to battle PTSD, the more the trauma reactions will appear in random and uncontrolled ways (e.g., irritability, poor concentration, anger outbursts, nightmares, flashbacks, etc.).

Our therapists provide you a safe place to discuss your PTSD/trauma and how it has influenced you, your work, and your relationships. You will learn new coping techniques that you can use daily, including ways to challenge your automatic negative thought patterns and instead focus on the present moment. You will also learn how to take decisive actions for a better and more relaxed future. Therapy is the time to examine your thoughts and feelings, take risks, and make steps toward a life controlled by you and not your previous trauma.

Our PTSD and trauma therapists can help free you from the burdens of intrusive memories, avoiding people and places, cognitive and emotional challenges, and over-reacting to daily activities. Let us empower you and improve your quality of life. Contact us today to start learning the necessary skills to lead a more fulfilling, balanced, and peaceful life. For face-to-face appointments, please reach out to our location in Louisville, KY. We are also available to help those in the surrounding areas using a HIPAA compliant telehealth platform. Dr. Helen Alvey is certified in Cognitive Processing Therapy for trauma. To learn more about her approach to PTSD and trauma, please click here or if you would like to schedule an appointment, please click here.