Prolonged Exposure for PTSD
A trauma is an emotional response following experiencing or witnessing a dangerous, harmful or life threatening event.
Examples of trauma can include: serious accident or injury, sudden life threatening illness, severe physical violence or attack, sexual abuse, rape, combat, among others.
Common reactions to trauma include:
fear, anxiety, guilt, shame, anger
re-experiencing of trauma through memories, flashbacks or nightmares
hyper-arousal, hyper-vigiliance , excessive startle response
avoidance (physical, cognitive or emotional)
depression, loss of interest
negative thoughts about self
increased substance use
Many of these reactions are part of the normal experience following a trauma, if these symptoms are affecting quality of life, ability to function and persist months following trauma, you may benefit from treatment to address PTSD symptoms. Not everyone that experiences trauma develops PTSD. For those that do develop PTSD, Prolonged Exposure is a proven treatment to significantly reduce symptoms of PTSD over an average of 8-15 sessions.
Prolonged Exposure is a clinically proven type of CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) developed by Edna Foa Ph.d. at the University of Pennsylvania.
People that develop PTSD typically experience fear and avoidance of thinking about, experiencing emotions associated with, and places associated with their traumatic experience. Prolonged Exposure helps the individual through the guidance of the therapist learn to revisit the traumatic memory through a thoughtful, guided, structured and gradual way. Gradual exposure helps to reduce distress associated with the trauma and reminders of trauma. Lastly, through the experience of Prolonged Exposure, patients learn to reevaluate negative cognitions about themselves and the greater world that have been influenced by the trauma.
Sessions are typically held in 90 minute sessions. Treatment can be adapted to a 60 minute session.
It is important to seek a therapist trained in Prolonged Exposure to treat PTSD. I have been trained by Edna Foa, Ph.D, the creator of the treatment at the University of Pennsylvania Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety. I also seek expert consultation as needed and appropriate to meet the needs of my patients.