PTSD Recovery Program
Based on research conducted by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, the PTSD Recovery Program embraces comprehensive information and instruction to help veterans, first responders and others suffering from the effects of PTSD to "take back their life".
Completely reviewed and revised for Australian conditions, this program provides participants with the opportunity to work with specialist therapists over a 10-week program.
Post traumatic stress disorder, commonly referred to as PTSD, is a disorder that can develop when someone has seen or experienced a shocking, dangerous or frightening event. This trauma may come from a single experience or multiple traumatic events, such as childhood abuse, physical or sexual assault, a serious accident, war or military combat, terrorist attacks or a natural disaster. It is normal to feel frightened by a traumatic experience, and for most people the fight, flight, or freeze response will settle after time. For some, the feelings of fear do not go away and this can lead to PTSD. Although trauma can uniquely impact on each individual’s life situation, it’s universal in how trauma physiologically impacts the brain and body. Using evidence-based therapies combined with holistic practices that promote healing, quality of life can be restored.
How Trauma Exposure Changes You
PTSD symptoms may occur soon after you witness or are involved in the event, or appear years later. Many people struggle through post-trauma symptoms, attempting to “tough it out” or distract from the anxiety, dreams, flashbacks, thoughts or memories of the event coming back unexpectedly and other physiological reactions that interfere with the ability to function in a healthy way.
Symptoms of trauma can vary; PTSD can cause you to become isolated, anxious, angry and depressed even years after the event or life situation. Such feelings can become compounded by emotional numbness and detachment from yourself and others which can lead to an avoidance of growthful life situations, relationships and complicate substance abuse recovery.
These changes in mood and thinking can cause major changes to beliefs about yourself, others or the world, as well as major changes to emotional state which gets in the way of living the life you want to live, until life has become a self-perpetuating cycle of ‘surviving rather than thriving’. These complex feelings can be expressed inwardly and can be expressed towards and projected onto others, creating distortions in reality that can make the path to healing seem unobtainable. It is not uncommon to feel guilt or shame, due to the grief associated with the trauma, the nature of the event or situation and decisions made or not made at that time, all of which can lead to a chronic state of overwhelm.
Reminders of the traumatic event can cause distress, and avoiding things that remind you of the event can include avoiding specific people, places, or events. It can also include efforts to avoid any unwanted memories, thoughts or feelings.
Understanding Your Needs
If left untreated, PTSD may cause other mental health issues and personal challenges including interruptions to daily functioning, work, health, and relationship breakdowns.
Professional treatment for PTSD works to unravel the effects of the trauma and treat its source and part of the recovery from trauma includes learning life skills on how to manage and reduce stress. When you are living with PTSD, it is easy to feel overwhelmed; it is common to experience anger, shame, guilt, depression, anxiety, or just feel numb. You may startle at loud noises or avoid going to certain places that trigger uncomfortable feelings. Your sleep may be interrupted and you may
experience flashbacks to the traumatic incident.
A trauma-informed model of care is at the heart of the PTSD Recovery Program. Your therapist is trained to be sensitive to underlying traumas and provide compassionate, informed care to those who are affected by trauma.
Due to the pervasive nature of the symptoms of PTSD, the opportunity to immerse yourself in the Recovery Program provides the greatest opportunity for resolution of the trauma and its effects. Trauma therapy is our particular area of expertise at PTSD Australia; we offer the most current, evidence-based therapeutic practice available in a confidential, nurturing and peaceful environment.
Returning to a Sense of Safety
Feeling safe, having a sense of well-being and a capacity to engage in healthy relationships with others, as well as a general ability to enjoy life, are all outcomes of successfully resolved trauma. Repairing and integrating a traumatised nervous system creates such an outcome.
Experience can change the brain in negative and positive ways. Just as damaging experiences change the brain in ways that are negative for us, new and positive experiences also change the brain in ways that help us to heal and grow. At PTSD Australia, we create a safe and therapeutic retreat environment, with expert care, that allows you to gently develop a sense of trust and well-being in yourself and engage in healthy relationships with others. This comfortable environment is one in which you can discuss and explore your feelings without fear.
A Customised PTSD Recovery Program
Everybody is different. That means every case of trauma is individual, so it is important to us that we treat your case uniquely and provide the correct treatment program to fit your needs. The neuroplasticity of the brain (the fact that the brain is malleable rather than fixed), means that healing the brain’s neural (nervous system) pathways is possible. When healthy integration happens in these neural networks trauma can be resolved. Trauma therapy needs to incorporate this integration in the nervous system to be effective.
Understanding and making meaning of the traumatic experience can be helpful in the resolution of the trauma, however, it is usually not enough. We use a body-oriented approach in dealing with trauma that addresses the body’s physical processes and states. Past experience tends to be unconsciously embodied in our present physicality. We need to have a felt experience of our sensations in the present moment to allow the emotional, physical and physiological effects of PTSD and other traumas to resolve. Aspects of different therapeutic modalities such as Psychotherapy, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy provide you with the tools to change the way you think and feel about your past experiences and the way these experiences will continue to shape you.
To support clients once they have returned home, we provide a one-year aftercare service at no additional cost to strengthen newly acquired knowledge and skills. A qualified clinician will contact you by telephone or video every month for a brief check-up to make sure that your recovery is continuing and to provide clinical advice where necessary.
We Can Help You Start On The Road To Recovery
Asking for help and allowing yourself time to heal are two very important parts of the recovery process. You deserve to make a change that will allow you to live a happier, healthier life, and that change can start today.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. Washington, D.C: American Psychiatric Association.
Burki, T. (2010). ‘Healing the scars of combat.’ The Lancet Psychiatry, 376(9754): 1727-28. Accessed 20/5/2016. doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(10)62119-8 (re:post-traumatic growth)
Kelly, A. & Garland, E.L. (2016). ‘Trauma-informed mindfulness-based stress reduction fo female survivors of interpersonal violence: results from a stage 1 RCT.’ Journal of Clinical Psychology, 72(4):311-28. Accessed 25/05/2016. doi: 10.1002/jclp.22273.