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PTSD is a thought disorder; specifically, it falls under the anxiety umbrella and reflects a person's response to a traumatic event. As the mind attempts to process the event, a pattern of symptoms typically follows: re-experiencing/intrusive symptoms, avoidance, persistent changes in cognitions/moods, and persistent changes in arousal/reactivity.

General population surveys have indicated most people (approximately 70%) will experience a traumatic event at some point in their life. Thankfully, evidence-based treatment exists. My postdoctoral fellowship focused on training me to provide evidence-based, first-line treatments for trauma-related symptoms.

Cognitive Processing Therapy & Prolonged Exposure

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) and Prolonged Exposure (PE) are two evidenced-based treatments for trauma-related symptoms. Each treatment addresses the impact of trauma via a different approach.

Within PE, learning and mastery happen through the activation of emotions. Similar to a person intending to overcome a fear of heights, we must expose ourselves to the stimulus to then learn the stimulus (the memory itself) is not dangerous. Within PE, imaginal and in-vivo exposure are utilized to help us process the memory of the event and experience habituation. 

CPT takes a slightly different approach as it teaches cognitive challenging and reframing skills, in order to challenge "stuck points." These are beliefs that keep us "stuck" in the recovery process. With time and consistent dedication, processing of the memory happens and trauma symptoms decrease.

Treatment Duration

Treatment planning is specific for each individual. Some clients may prefer to engage in either CPT or PE, while others may have schedules that don't accommodate these specific treatments. 

CPT lasts 12 sessions, while PE ranges from 8-20 sessions. Trauma-focused treatment is highly individualized; please contact Dr. Schlairet if you have questions about the appropriate treatment for you.


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