Summary – Is it safe to face your trauma?

New research changes the paradigm for trauma victims.

  • 50 – 70 percent of adults in the United States have experienced trauma
  • 15 percent of these people will develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Only about half of people with PTSD get treatment
  • Many traumatized people don’t want to talk about it because they worry they will feel worse
  • Trauma can lower self esteem. People can begin to abuse substances like alcohol or drugs, become suicidal, or harm themselves.
  • The therapeutic mindset always was:“safety first.” Therapists would not help patients explore their trauma until the therapist was assured of the patient’s safety. So sometimes it never got talked about.  

Prolonged Exposure Therapy 

  • Prolonged exposure (PE) therapy exposes people to their traumatic memories repeatedly until the memories of the trauma become less powerful. 
  • It takes 6-12 sessions. 
  • The sessions are recorded for the client to listen to repeatedly between sessions.
  • This is an evidence-based treatment.

Here’s Dr. Palmer’s Advancing Psychiatry column in Psychology Today, including the original article.

Research

  • Kessler RC, Chiu WT, Demler O, Walters EE. Prevalence, severity, and comorbidity of twelve-month DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R). Archives of General Psychiatry, 2005 Jun;62(6):617-27
  • Kilpatrick, D. G., Resnick, H. S., Milanak, M. E., Miller, M. W., Keyes, K. M., & Friedman, M. J. (2013). National estimates of exposure to traumatic events and PTSD prevalence using DSM-IV and DSM-5 criteria. Journal of traumatic stress, 26(5), 537-47.
  • National Center for PTSD, retrieved from https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand/common/common_adults.asp

Other Advancing Psychiatry articles

Christie Barnett, APN

Christie is an Advanced Practice Nurse with over 35 years experience working with people in mental health care. She currently has a private, outpatient psychotherapy practice in Millburn, NJ. You can follow her on Instagram at keto.nj

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