Treating PTSD – what are the options for clients?

PTSD is seen in an estimated:

25% of road traffic accident survivors

21% of those who experience verbal or sexual abuse

19% of those who experience accidents and physical injuries

What are the recommended treatments?

Government NICE (http://www.nice.org.uk/) guidelines recommend psychological treatment as the first intervention for people diagnosed with PTSD. Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (TCBT) is the treatment of choice, followed by the relatively new therapy, Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR). TCBT and EMDR have many common components and high success rates in the treatment of PTSD. Medication may be a helpful adjunct particularly where there is comorbid depression and sleep disturbance. Studies show TCBT to be the treatment with the greatest evidence base and proven efficacy for treating PTSD.

How do treatments for PTSD work?

TCBT is a form of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy focused specifically on working with distressing memories and feelings around traumatic events. After setting focused goals for therapy, client and therapist work together to achieve them.

In sessions, the client is encouraged to gradually recall and examine memories of the event. Supported by the therapist, difficult feelings are recalled and any unhelpful or erroneous thinking about the event, around feelings of guilt or on-going risk, are explored and tackled. As treatment continues, the client is encouraged to resume previously enjoyed activities. Gradual reintroduction to previously enjoyed activities is planned and practised. Clients involved in road traffic accidents may need to work on returning to driving confidently, or reducing fear as a passenger in the car.

Clients diagnosed with PTSD will usually require 10 sessions of TCBT, with follow-up sessions, to ensure gains made in therapy are maintained.

EMDR is a new therapy, and while underlying mechanisms remain uncertain, studies have shown it can be successful in reducing distress caused by a traumatic event and the symptoms of PTSD. EMDR involves making side-to-side eye movements while recalling the traumatic event. This process is thought to assist in processing of the event and symptoms reduce accordingly.

Cost of treatment

As part of our comprehensive medico-legal assessment service, a detailed estimate of costs for treatment can be provided for your client. Assessments for Treatment are also offered which allow a detailed assessment of a client’s treatment needs in order to make recommendations as to suitability to therapy and number of sessions required, as well as estimated fees. For more information, please feel free to contact us.

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