Post Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD
Residential Treatment of PTSD at CooperRiis
Therapy — individual and group therapy, as recognized by The National Institute of Mental Health — provides an effective form of treatment for PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).
- Teach relaxation skills
- Help people deal with overwhelming feelings about a triggering event
- Educate people about how trauma affects the brain and body
- Teach effective emotional management
- Provide tips for better sleep, diet, and exercise
- Help people change how they react to PTSD symptoms
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an integrative psychotherapy approach used at CooperRiis that has been proven effective for the treatment of trauma.
In addition to group and individual therapy, other healing modalities such as massage, yoga, and meditation can be effective for PTSD. We teach wellness skills to add to a ‘toolbox’ of coping skills. Residents learn to access this toolbox if they begin to experience overwhelming symptoms.
When a resident learns how to manage overwhelming feelings, it is freeing. Many residents with PTSD avoid social interactions because they are afraid they will be triggered in public. But if a resident has the skills to cope when triggered, avoidance often diminishes.
PTSD and Healing Community: Treating the Whole Person
Building a sense of physical and emotional safety is vital for those recovering from trauma. We provide a welcoming, caring and compassionate community that respects people’s emotional state and supports them. We also take the time to get to know the whole person and nurture all a person’s strengths.
At CooperRiis residents spend much of their waking time in the company of supportive staff and peers. Some of this time is spent on one of a variety of work crews. Structured work routines provide a sense of purpose and opportunities to work collaboratively. Residents can practice taking risks and sharing with others as well as addressing triggers to PTSD. Purposeful routines demonstrate to residents that what they do matters to others and that they are valuable to the community. Every facet of the resident’s life is addressed.
Seven Domains of a Whole, Healthy Person*
- Physical wellness
- Emotional and psychological health
- Intellectual creativity and learning
- Social and community connectedness
- Purpose, productivity, and fulfillment
- Empowerment and independence
Our residents work with an interdisciplinary recovery team which is comprised of professionals with expertise in the above domains. Because every person is different, some domains will receive more emphasis than others, but all will be attended to.
What is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that develops after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event or learning that a traumatic event has happened to a loved one. PTSD is most often associated with veterans and wartime involvement, but there are many experiences that 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
Post-traumatic stress disorder often accompanies other anxiety disorders, mood disorders like depression, or substance use. Women are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD. People with PTSD often relive traumatic events through flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive memories which can be almost as stressful as the original event. Although people do develop PTSD from experiencing natural disasters, trauma caused by other people is more likely to result in the development of post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Difference between ‘Everyday’ Anxiety and PTSD
Anxiety often serves as a warning system that alerts us to threats. Anxiety helps protect us from harm and helps us react quickly when we are in danger. When anxiety becomes excessive and is no longer beneficial, it may become an anxiety disorder such as PTSD.
In the case of PTSD, people re-experience the traumatic event that originally triggered their symptoms even when no actual threat is present. People suffering from PTSD experience a cycle of distressing intrusive memories and states of high anxiety. Behaviors, such as isolation, can emerge to avoid triggering anxiety. People experiencing the symptoms of PTSD often describe themselves as overwhelmed.
Signs and Symptoms of PTSD
Post-traumatic stress disorder is diagnosed after a person experiences symptoms for at least one month following a traumatic event. However, symptoms do not always appear quickly. It can take months, or even years, for PTSD symptoms to manifest.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is characterized by four main types of symptoms:
- Reliving a traumatic event through intrusive recollections, anxiety attacks, flashbacks, and nightmares
- Emotional numbness
- Avoidance of normal daily activities and other people
- Feeling cut off from others and negative mood and thought patterns
- Increased reactivity and difficulty sleeping, feeling jumpy, easily irritated and angered
About the Author
Michael Groat, MSc, PhD is President and CEO of CooperRiis residential treatment program located in Asheville and Mill Spring, North Carolina. Michael earned his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from SUNY-Albany. Prior to joining CooperRiis, he was associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, where he also served as director of the division of adult services at the Menninger Clinic.
Michael is also a former candidate in adult psychoanalysis at the Center for Psychoanalytic Studies, Houston, and completed a 4-year fellowship in psychodynamic psychotherapy at the Austen Riggs Center. He has published on suicide prevention, applications of attachment research, and uses of clinical outcomes, and has lectured nationally and internationally on the same. Michael has long-standing interest in suicide prevention, therapeutic communities, organizational and systemic interventions, personality assessment, and intensive psychotherapy.