New Programming for people on the Autism Spectrum/Neurodiversity

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), we want you to know: 

There is hope. 

Our whole-person, sustainable approach to recovery has helped adults aged 18+ with PTSD achieve emotional stability, build self-efficacy, and regain agency in their lives. 

We can help you or your loved one too.

Recovery is Possible

We treat adults aged 18+ with anxiety.

Our Approach to Healing PTSD

A Focus on Wellness & Possibility

PTSD traps people in the worst moments of their lives. We recognize how painful and debilitating this is, so we meet every individual who enters our residential rehab programs at both The Farm (our long-term residential treatment center) and CooperRiis at Asheville (our short-term residential treatment center) with profound compassion.

We also believe that individuals with PTSD are capable of recovering and achieving personal fulfillment. That’s why we do more than temporarily mitigate symptoms: We provide residents the tailored, whole-person care they need to reprogram their nervous systems, reclaim control of their behaviors, and free their minds from the mire of near-constant distress. 

PTSD stands for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s an anxiety disorder that develops after experiencing/ witnessing a traumatic event firsthand or learning that a traumatic event has happened to a loved one. PTSD is often associated with veterans and wartime involvement, but many experiences can cause PTSD. Some examples are:

  • Threat of death or serious injury
  • Sexual abuse, violence, and rape
  • Chronic physical abuse, severe emotional abuse, and neglect
  • Living through natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, or fires
  • Community violence like attacks at a local school
  • The suicide of a friend or family member

When someone experiences trauma, it’s normal for their body to enter what is often referred to as “fight-flight-or-freeze” mode. In this state, adrenaline courses, the heart pounds, muscles tense, breathing rates skyrocket, and dissociation may occur (dissociation refers to the sensation of watching yourself from above or detaching yourself from the present/reality), among other effects.

Once a traumatic event has passed, an individual’s body should eventually “downshift” from this heightened state back to normalcy. Depending on many factors, including the intensity of the event, this can take some time. However, if the body does not “come down” long after the distressing event triggering it has passed, PTSD develops.

There is still a lot of research to be done on the physiological underpinnings of PTSD, but what scientists do know is this: When an event is so traumatic that an individual’s stress hormones remain spiked for an extended period of time, there are changes in the brain that correlate with PTSD symptoms. These changes include a loss of volume in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), a loss of volume in the hippocampus, and an increase in the amygdala volume. 

A loss in vmPFC volume is linked to difficulties with behavioral inhibition, a loss in hippocampal volume is linked to difficulties discerning what is presently occurring and what has occurred in the past, and an increase in the size of one’s amygdala is linked to emotional regulation challenges. These issues create a debilitating constellation of symptoms that make someone feel and behave as if they are constantly in serious danger. 

The good news is that all of these physiological changes and the cognitive/ behavioral symptoms that go with them can be treated and healed. Recovery from PTSD is possible, and if you’re interested in speaking with one of our friendly admissions team members about our holistic, integrative approach to healing PTSD, give us a call today.

There are four different types of symptoms associated with PTSD:

Re-experiencing symptoms include:

  • Flashbacks
  • Anxiety attacks
  • Nightmares
  • Frightening intrusive thoughts

Avoidance symptoms include:

  • Staying away from places, events, or objects that may trigger thoughts of a traumatic experience
  • Avoiding thoughts or feelings related to the traumatic event
  • Avoiding others

Arousal and reactivity symptoms include:

  • Being easily startled
  • Feeling tense or “on edge”
  • Hypervigilance
  • Having difficulty sleeping/ insomnia
  • Angry outbursts

Cognition and mood symptoms include:

  • Trouble remembering key features of a traumatic event
  • Negative thoughts about oneself or the world
  • Distorted feelings like guilt or blame
  • Loss of interest in formerly enjoyable activities/ emotional numbness
  • Episodes of dissociation, especially depersonalization (a feeling of detachment from oneself/ watching oneself from above, etc.) and derealization (a feeling of being detached from your surroundings or as if you are in a dream)

To be diagnosed with PTSD, an individual must have experienced at least one symptom from each category for at least one month and to such a severe degree that their ability to work/ relationships are impacted.

Symptoms do not always appear immediately after a traumatic experience. It can take months or even years for PTSD symptoms to manifest. What’s more, it is not unusual for someone with PTSD to experience it alongside another mental health condition, such as another anxiety disorder or depression. The prevalence of substance abuse disorders among those with PTSD is very high: According to the National Center for PTSD, 46.4% of individuals with PTSD also develop a dependency on drugs or alcohol.1

Anyone who experiences a significantly traumatic event can develop PTSD. Women are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD because they are at higher risk of experiencing traumas such as sexual assault or child sexual abuse.

PTSD is most effectively treated with a combination of medication, therapy, and community-based interventions. When this combination of treatments is tailored to suit an individual’s specific needs and delivered by a team of experts, people can recover from this condition and go on to lead full, gratifying lives.

Call us today to speak to one of our friendly admissions staff members about how CooperRiis heals the physiological, cognitive, and behavioral components of PTSD through integrated, holistic residential care.

Dream Statements

We begin every resident’s recovery by helping them craft a Dream Statement. Dream Statements express life aspirations. They guide residents’ development of core goals (attainable in 3 months) and achievable goals (attainable in 1-2 weeks), enabling them to map clear paths towards personally fulfilling lives.

Taking Gradual Steps Towards Manageable Goals

It can be hard for residents with PTSD to envision uplifting possibilities for their futures when they're constantly operating in survival mode. That's why our expert staff offers the personalized support residents need to safely process the trauma they've experienced, skillfully regulate their emotions, and develop new, adaptive relationships with their thoughts.

As residents engage in our Trauma Resource Model (TRM)-informed treatments, we help them reconnect with their core values and interests. This allows them not only to set personally meaningful goals, but also to take manageable steps towards them.

Holistic, Relationship-Driven Care

The success of our approach to healing PTSD hinges on the relationships we build with our residents. By taking the time to listen to their experiences, understand their values, and gain their trust, our staff creates a healing space where individuals with this condition feel safe to make progress through every stage of recovery.

Empowering Minds

As a protective measure, many residents with PTSD purposefully avoid thinking about the events that have triggered their conditions. While this can stave off intense negative emotions in the short term, it exacerbates symptoms over time. We support residents in safely engaging with and processing their traumatic experiences through a variety of evidence-based therapeutic modalities such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR). By working with our expert team of psychotherapists to understand their condition and build new, adaptive relationships with their pasts, residents become empowered to pursue gratifying futures.

Building Community

The open, accepting community in which CooperRiis residents recover from PTSD fosters a sense of security that enhances the healing effects of their physiological and cognitive treatments. When they share their experiences with others who are on their own healing journeys, residents learn that they are neither alone nor broken. And when they practice asking those around them for help, they refine the interpersonal skill set they need to maintain their support networks outside CooperRiis.

Integrated, Whole-Person Treatment

Individuals with PTSD respond best to multimodal, multi-phase treatment plans. That’s why, rather than relying exclusively on medications or therapy, we combine a variety of evidence-based treatments to address all of the following seven domains of health for our residents:

The Seven Domains of Recovery

The seven domains recovery model infographic

Treatment Plans That Meet Residents Where They Are

No matter where they are on their recovery journey, every CooperRiis resident receives personalized care that allows them to make sustainable progress towards their goals. While this means every individual’s recovery plan is unique, the following types of PTSD treatments have been especially beneficial for our residents:

Soothing, Stress-Free Environment

The environments at CooperRiis' residential treatment centers are designed to be as soothing and stress-free as possible for our residents with PTSD. Housing features private bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms and plenty of natural light, immediate access to walking trails, and on-campus arts and crafts studios. By removing the triggers of everyday life and offering plenty of outlets for self expression, both the Farm and CooperRiis at Asheville enable residents to focus all of their energy on recovery.
Exercise/Movement Practices
Research shows that regular exercise reduces stress, supports healthy emotional regulation, promotes confidence, and elevates people's overall moods. For these reasons, it's a key component of our residential PTSD treatment programs. After helping residents select movement practices that suit their interests and preferences, we support them in establishing sustainable habits around those practices. We're careful to position exercise as an empowering, uplifting, and enjoyable activity.
Nutrition and Supplements
Nutrition can play a large role in individuals' experiences of PTSD. Some substances, such as alcohol, sugar, and caffeine, can exacerbate symptoms if consumed in excess. That's why we collaborate with each of our residents to create balanced, personalized nutrition plans that provide them with all of the nourishment they need while mitigating their symptoms. For some individuals, we recommend adding supplements to enhance the benefits of a well-rounded diet.

Medication

Like everything at CooperRiis, decisions about medication are collaborative: Our integrative psychiatrists work with residents to develop approaches to medication that align with their specific needs, goals, and preferences. We strive to prescribe the lowest dose that will support the highest quality of life for all our residents, and we maintain regular communications with them so necessary medication adjustments can be made in real time.
Breathwork and Mindfulness Practices
We teach residents breathwork and mindfulness techniques that they can use to regulate the physical components of their PTSD. Whether they're experiencing generalized, chronic symptoms or more acute panic/anxiety attacks, residents can use these strategies to center their focus on the present, ground their awareness in their senses, and self soothe. By doing so, they create the space they need to engage in the cognitive coping strategies we teach them.
Cognitive Therapy
Our accredited, experienced psychotherapists offer a variety of therapeutic modalities in both individual and group settings so residents can select the treatments most comfortable for them. We find that the best kind of therapy for PTSD is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or one of its derivatives, such as Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) or Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). These approaches enable residents to create distance between themselves and their thoughts/feelings so they can establish a healthier relationship with anxiety.

EMDR

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an effective, evidence-based approach to healing the effects of trauma, adverse life experiences, and phobias. We integrate this modality into residents' recovery plans to help them process traumatic memories, develop new relationships with distressing stimuli, and dismantle negative core beliefs. During EMDR sessions, our trained clinicians guide residents in creating new, adaptive associations with emotionally-charged thoughts.

WRAP Groups

Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) groups help individuals with PTSD create personalized health management plans. During these staff-facilitated sessions, residents write down what wellbeing looks like for them along with the routines and self-care practices that support it. They also record their triggers, early signs of symptom onset, and typical patterns of symptomatic progression. Finally, they outline coping strategies they can use to interrupt these patterns when they arise and regain stability.

Dual Diagnosis Groups

It is not uncommon for individuals who feel chronic dread, worry, or distress to rely on drugs or alcohol as coping mechanisms; almost half of all those diagnosed with PTSD also have a substance abuse disorder. Our dual diagnosis groups support residents in addressing substance abuse issues while they undergo treatment for the physiological and cognitive components of their PTSD. This allows residents to gradually replace their maladaptive coping strategies with healthy ones and make sustainable progress towards their recovery goals.
Community
Supportive, compassionate, and affirming, the community at CooperRiis gives residents with PTSD a sense of belonging that promotes their self-worth and enables them to take healthy risks. Residents engage with their community through activities, group therapy, work crews, and other outlets. This variety of structured social opportunities reinforces the skills they learn with us while helping them grow their support network.

Family Education

Familial support reduces the rate of re-hospitalization for those with mental illnesses, according to a recent study.2 We not only keep family members updated on their loved one's progress with us, but we also provide them with an in-depth education on how they can become the support system individuals with anxiety disorders need in order to achieve their highest levels of health and wellness.

Our Recovery Model Works

Data collected over 10 years show that the residential treatment program for PTSD at CooperRiis works. Individuals who benefit from our holistic, recovery-focused model of care make demonstrable progress in multiple domains of health.

After participating in our program, people with PTSD:

  • Are able to carry out day-to-day functions successfully and with greater ease.
  • Experience long-term improvements in emotional wellbeing.
  • Gain stable senses of self-efficacy.
  • Are empowered to become stewards of their own health.

An extensive body of research and clinical experience affirms these findings: Combining psychotherapy with a strong, supportive community, structured daily routines, physical wellness programs, and an integrative approach to medication can dramatically improve the lives of individuals with PTSD.

2019 Alumni Survey Results

1 %

are engaged in either competitive employment, volunteering, or going to school.

1 %
are living independently with roommates or on their own.
1 %
report they have had no psychiatric hospitalizations.

Research Citations

We can help.

Contact us to get started with our healing community.

What to Expect 

We are waiting to assist you and answer your questions now. 

Call to speak with one of our friendly admissions team members. We will help you determine which program would be best for you or your loved one, and gather information about the potential resident. 

Or, email us any time at: Admissions@CooperRiis.org