Treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:
People can recover from PTSD. Some can recover within several months, while others take much longer. Everyone’s experience is different. The same event may be more traumatic for some people than for others. There is no “cookie-cutter” approach where members who suffer can find a “one cure – fits all” type of “fix” on the road to finding a new “normal”.
Most skilled therapists are trained in several types of treatment, which they may use alone or in combination. All treatment approaches should follow the stages of the trauma therapy model. Good therapists adapt the different treatment approaches to best suit each client. Please check out the list of therapists and crisis resources found on the Badge of Life Canada website for further assistance.
For further information, please take a moment to view the animated whiteboard videos found at the bottom of this page for an in-depth explanation to possible questions you may have for yourself or a loved one.
Here is a brief description of the main therapeutic approaches:
Types of Therapy:
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
- Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (TFCBT)
- Eye movement, Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)
- Narrative Therapy (NT)
- Sensorimotor Therapy (ST)
- Emotion-focused Therapy (EFT)
- Stress Inoculation Therapy (SIT)
- Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)
- Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PET)
- Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)
- Group Therapy (GT)
(Adaptation Barbara L. Anschuetz, Clinical Director at The Trauma Centre – Registered Psychotherapist, EdD, RP, CTS)
Counseling and therapy:
Trauma counseling or therapy can be done one-on-one or in a group, and can be very helpful for people with PTSD. Family counseling and individual treatment can help with relationship troubles.
What is psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy involves personal engagement in a process of exploration of various painful personal issues, emotional problems, physical symptoms and relationship dysfunction by means of verbal and non-verbal communication, rather than with the use of medications or physical interventions.
Psychotherapy may be performed by practitioners with a number of different qualifications, including psychologists, marriage and family therapists, licensed clinical social workers, counsellors, psychiatric nurses, and psychiatrists.
What is a Psychologist?
A psychologist is a professionally trained individual who has the skills and training necessary to assess, diagnose and treat mental health issues. Psychologists are registered, regulated, and licensed by the College of Psychologists of Ontario (CPO) and practice psychology under the framework of the Regulated Health Professions Act (RHPA).
To be registered as a psychologist in the Province of Ontario an individual must have a doctorate degree in psychology. In addition to this degree, he or she must pass professional examinations, complete a one-year supervised internship, and agree to follow ethical codes and standards of practice.
Psychologists have a doctoral degree in psychology that includes approximately 5000 hours of clinical training and specialization in assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of human emotion, thought, and behaviour. They have advanced training in counselling, psychotherapy, psychological testing, and the science of behaviour change. Psychologists are the only professionals qualified to use certain kinds of psychological tests to assess intelligence, emotional and behavioural problems, and neuropsychological dysfunction. Psychologist’s fees are covered by private payment, extended medical plans, employee assistance programs, and through government agencies or other special programs. In Ontario, the College of Psychologists of Ontario licenses Psychologists.
What is a Psychiatrist?<
In Canada, psychiatrists must have a degree in medicine, a license to practise medicine in their province, and specialist certification in psychiatry by either the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada or a provincial college.
The CPA defines psychiatrists as physicians who “enhance the person’s quality of life by providing psychiatric assessment, treatment and rehabilitation care to people with psychiatric disorders in order to prevent, reduce and eliminate the symptoms and subsequent disabilities resulting from mental illness or disorder”.
The psychiatrist is trained primarily as a clinician to diagnose, treat and provide ongoing care for mental disorders to patients of all ages. Psychiatrists are primary, secondary and tertiary care physicians. Psychiatrists not only provide direct care to patients but often act as consultants to other health professionals such as family doctors.
Psychiatrists work in a range of settings including psychiatric or general hospitals, private offices, research units, community health centres, social agencies or in government.
Psychiatrists use a mix of treatment options, including medications and psychotherapy, depending on the psychiatric conditions. Often part of the treatment or rehabilitation plan will include referral to or collaboration with a range of social and support services.
What is a psychotherapist?
A psychotherapist is a professional who specifically offer talk therapy for the purpose of treating mental disorders. This title is protected in some jurisdictions. For example, in Ontario, Canada only members of College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO) may call themselves psychotherapists or registered psychotherapists. Members of CRPO usually hold a Master’s degree in psychology or relevant fields. Psychotherapists are not allowed to prescribe medication. When it comes to the treatment of mental disorders, the roles of psychologists and psychotherapists overlap, but, in general, the type of services psychologists offer could go beyond therapy.
Psychiatrists and family doctors can prescribe medication for depression, anxiety, nervousness and sleep problems, which are common in people with PTSD. Medication works best when a person is also in counselling.
How is PTSD Measured?
To develop PTSD, a person must have gone through a trauma. Almost all people who go through trauma have some symptoms for a short time after the trauma. Yet most people do not get PTSD. A certain pattern of symptoms is involved in PTSD. There are four major types of symptoms: re-experiencing, avoidance, arousal, and negative changes in beliefs and feelings.
Deciding if someone has PTSD can involve several steps. The diagnosis of PTSD is most often made by a mental health provider. Please see Types of Therapists for more information about the types of mental health providers who diagnose and treat PTSD. To diagnose PTSD, a mental health provider “measures,” “assesses”, or “evaluates” PTSD symptoms you may have had since the trauma.
What is a PTSD screen?
A person who went through trauma might be given a screen to see if he or she could have PTSD. A screen is a very short list of questions just to see if a person needs to be assessed further. The results of the screen do not show whether a person has PTSD. A screen can only show whether this person should be assessed further.
What can I expect from an assessment for PTSD?
The length of a PTSD assessment can vary widely depending on the purpose as well as the training of the evaluator. While some evaluations may take as little as 15 minutes, a more thorough evaluation takes about one hour. Some PTSD assessments can take eight or more one-hour sessions. This is more likely when the information is needed for legal reasons or disability claims.
You can expect to be asked questions about events that may have been traumatic for you. You will be asked about symptoms you may have had since these events. Assessments that are more complete are likely to involve structured sets of questions. You may be asked to complete surveys that ask about your thoughts and feelings. Your spouse or partner may be asked to provide extra information. Although it is uncommon, you may also be asked to go through a test that looks at how your body reacts to mild reminders of your trauma.
No matter what your case involves, you should always be able to ask questions in advance. The evaluator should be able to tell you what the assessment will include, how long it will take, and how the results of the assessment will be used.
PTSD Treatment Approaches: (animated whiteboard video)
PTSD Treatment: Know your options? (animated whiteboard video)
“Evidence based treatments: What does it mean? (animated whiteboard video)
PTSD Treatment: Cognitive Processing Therapy (animated whiteboard video)
PTSD Treatment: Prolonged Exposure Therapy (animated whiteboard video)
Disclaimer: The above listed criteria is not meant to be “all encompassing” nor used as a “check-list” for a member or family member to make a “self-diagnosis” regarding their mental wellness. If feel that you are suffering please see a medical professional for a proper diagnosis to begin the process of submitting a claim to the workplace insurance board within your Province or Territory. Early diagnosis and can lead to effective results for many members so that they do not have to suffer in silence.
Adapted from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: An Information Guide © 2009 Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Adapted from Mental Health Commission of Canada
Adapted from Moods Disorder Society of Canada
Adapted from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs