Coping with Trauma using Prolonged Exposure Therapy

Prolonged exposure therapy is a type of therapy used to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder other wise known as PTSD. I have found that it is also helpful in treating anxiety.  In order to reduce the trauma associated with a past traumatizing event, you engage the trauma through remembering it with visualization.

Most people try to forget traumatic events or avoid what makes then anxious. So by confronting the trauma through visualization and facing what makes you anxious, over time you notice that you start to feel better. Visualization allows you to confront the trauma in a safe environment such as your therapist’s office. Prolonged exposure therapy is not new. It has been around for the last twenty years. 80% of patients that go through Prolonged exposure therapy treatment report improvement.

The goal of treatment is to promote processing of the trauma through the retelling of the trauma or visualizing anxiety triggers to your therapist. By the retelling of the trauma,  your brain starts the emotional processing needed to reduce traumatic memories and reduce the avoidance behaviors that you might be doing.

Some things you can do to get started is to start a journal.  A journal helps you to track your moods and writing can help you to process difficult emotions that often come up in therapy. If you are a technology minded person, there are several mental health apps that can assist you in tracking your mood. There is also a app that teaches prolonged exposure therapy. Apps are a good tool to use with your therapist. They do not replace counseling which is needed to help reduce your symptoms.