POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 107 POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD): ALL AGES therapist, you will learn to replace these thoughts with more accurate and less distressing thoughts. You also learn ways to cope with feelings such as anger, guilt, and fear. After a traumatic event, people often blame themselves and feel guilty for things that they could not have changed. • For example, a soldier may feel guilty about decisions he or she had to make during war. Hindsight is 20/20; it is easy to think about what one should have done, after it has already happened. But knowing what you could have done does not mean that you are wrong or to blame for what happened. • Furthermore, feeling responsible for what happened, lets the person feel a sense of control over the situation. But the reality is that they were not in control; and it was not their fault. Children who are abused often blame themselves for the abuse. Rationally, this makes no sense. But the blame may happen because by blaming oneself for the abuse, it lets the child feel responsible and have some sense of control. Exposure Therapy In exposure therapy your goal is to have less fear about your memories. It is based on the idea that people learn to fear thoughts, feelings, and situations that remind them of a past traumatic event. By talking about your trauma repeatedly with a therapist, you'll learn to get control of your thoughts and feelings about thetrauma. You'll learn that you do not have to be afraid of your memories. This may be hard at first. It might seem strange to think about stressful things on purpose. But you'll feel less overwhelmed over time. With the help of your therapist, you can change how you react to the stressful memories. Talking in a place where you feel secure makes this easier. You may focus on memories that are less upsetting before talking about worse ones. This is called "desensitization," and it allows you to deal with bad memories a little bit at a time. Your therapist also may ask you to remember a lot of bad memories at once. This is called "flooding," and it helps you learn not to feel overwhelmed. You also may practice different ways to relax when you're having a stressful memory. Breathing exercises are sometimes used for this. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a fairly new therapy for PTSD, and there are controversies around its use. While talking about your memories, you'll focus on distractions like eye movements, hand taps, and sounds. For example, your therapist will move his or her hand near your face, and you'll follow this movement with your eyes. Research suggests that helps by reducing the distress from traumatic memories, but the exact way it helps is still being researched. Other Types of Counselling/Therapy Group therapy Many people want to talk about their trauma with others who have had similar experiences. In group therapy, you talk with a group of people who also have been through a trauma and who have PTSD. Sharing your story with others may help you feel more comfortable talking about your trauma. This can help you cope with your symptoms, memories, and other parts of your life. ►