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FamilyOfaVet - Real world info about PTSD, TBI, & life after combat
FamilyOfaVet - Real World info about PTSD, TBI, & life after combat.

PTSD Treatments

Thankfully, as the nationwide awareness of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) grows,
The list of
PTSD treatments below will give you a general overview of each method.  You'll
find "traditional" options listed at the top of the page and "non-traditional" therapies listed
at the bottom.  It's a lot of information to cover! We've also included links to web resources
about many of the treatments.

When looking for a way to help yourself (or your Veteran) learn to cope and live
successfully with PTSD, you have to keep an open mind and know that every method won't
work for every person.  It often takes a while to find out what is going to work for you and
your family.  
Don't let yourself get discouraged!!  Keep going... the efforts will pay off!!

Please note, we are not "experts" nor do we have medical degrees of any kind.  The
explanations offered are simply our "takes" on each therapy.  You'll want to do your own
research or ask your health care professional about any treatments you're considering!

Traditional PTSD Treatments


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), also known as Cognitive Therapy, is the longest used
treatment for
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Probably the simplest way to explain it, is
a CBT therapist helps you change how you look at the world around you.  They help you
figure out what negative thought processes, reactions, or patterns are making your life
worse and then give you tools to help you change that.

Sites about CBT: CBT & PTSD; Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in the Treatment of
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder; Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and PTSD;;; National Association of Cognitive
Behavioral Therapists; National Alliance on Mental Illness

Some Types of Cognitive Therapy used to treat PTSD are:

Exposure Therapy - This therapy actually gets you to confront the situation(s) that
caused your
PTSD.  The idea is that by dealing with the traumatic event again in a
controlled environment you can gradually get a handle on how it makes you react and feel.
 Basically, a therapist guides you through you memories... asking you to recall difficult
memories, thing you frequently have nightmares or flashbacks about, etc.  There is also an
emerging type of exposure therapy called "Virtual Exposure Therapy" that's a little like a
Iraq or Afghanistan-based video game (This is still in development and is only being used
sparingly.  Early results are promising, though!)

Sites about Exposure Therapy: What is Exposure Therapy?;;
Exposure Therapy and Overcoming PTSD; Exposure Therapy Helps PTSD Victims
Overcome Trauma's Debilitating Effects; Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders -
Exposure Treatment & PTSD

Cognitive Restructuring - This is a process based on the idea that how you think as a
big impact on how you feel and behave in life.   Here's a good example from
an article on
Cognitive Restructuring by Joseph Strayhorn on "Suppose someone has a
problem with his temper. He is in the habit of saying to himself, whenever anyone slights
him, 'That son of a b**ch! What the hell does he think he's doing!' Suppose this person
changes his habit so that instead he says to himself, 'The person did something I don't like.
How big a deal is it? And how can I respond to it to make things come out best?' Does it
make sense that this person might reduce his anger problem if he changed his thinking
habits in this way?"

Sites about Cognitive Restructuring: Psychological Skills Press; Psychological
Self-Help Tools;; Cognitive Restructuring for Stress Relief;
Definition of Cognitive Restructuring

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) - When I first read about
EMDR, it sounded pretty odd to me.  But, even though many references admit that the
reason behind the success of EMDR isn't exactly known, it has been proven effective in the
treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Here's a good description of EMDR from
Dr. Edward Hume at "When a patient and a therapist do EMDR, the therapist
asks the patient to bring to mind the incident the patient wants to work on, the negative
thinking caused by the incident, and the new thoughts the patient wants to have. Then the
therapist moves her or his fingers rapidly back and forth in front of the patient. The patient
follows the fingers with his or her eyes. After a number of sets of movements, patients
generally think and feel quite differently about the incident, similar incidents, and
themselves. ... Taps to hands, right and left, sounds alternating ear-to-ear, and even
alternating movements by the patient can work instead. The key seems to be the
alternating stimulation of the two sides of the brain."

Sites about EMDR: EMDR Info on; Good Article on EMDR from;; EMDR for PTSD; Info from the EMDR Institute;


Psychodynamic Psychotherapy basically looks at the unconscious issues (normally things
that happened in your childhood) that are affecting someone's motives, actions or
reactions and causing them to act in a way that's unhealthy  For example, something that
happened to you as a child that now causes you to be afraid of strangers or unfamiliar
places.  After the issue is identified, the therapist works with the patient to replace that
unhealthy response with a more "normal" one. This type of therapy isn't usually used by
itself to
treat PTSD, but instead it's used as part of a treatment plan.

Sites about Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: Psychodynamic Treatment of PTSD;
What is the Difference Between CBT & Psychodynamic Therapy?;;
Description on


Many Veterans find it extremely helpful to be able to sit in a room with others who have also
been in combat.  However, other Veterans find that this type of therapy is too much to
handle.  Many VAMC's (VA Medical Centers) and Vet Centers offer Group Therapy.  

We found a good
description of group therapy on  It says, "In group
therapy approximately 6-10 individuals meet face-to-face with a trained group therapist.
During the group meeting time, members decide what they want to talk about.Members are
encouraged to give feedback to others. Feedback includes expressing your own feelings
about what someone says or does. Interaction between group members are highly
encouraged and provides each person with an opportunity to try out new ways of
behaving; it also provides members with an opportunity for learning more about the way
they interact with others. It is a safe environment in which members work to establish a
level of trust that allows them to talk personally and honestly. Group members make a
commitment to the group and are instructed that the content of the group sessions are

Sites about Group Therapy: Group Therapy Helps With Combat Stress; How to
Find Group Therapy for PTSD; Advantages of Group Therapy to Treat PTSD;; Group Therapy Helps Car Accident Survivors Deal with PTSD


The idea of family counseling is that when one person in a family is struggling with PTSD,
that struggle affects everyone else.  And, the only way to get things "back on track" is to
treat the family as a whole.  Family Counseling can help everyone develop coping skills,
learn to resolve conflicts (often an all too frequent occurrence in PTSD world!), and work
through pent-up feelings.  Family counseling is usually started after a Veteran is already
receiving individual
treatment for PTSD.

Sites about Family Counseling: What is Family Counseling?; How to Seek
Counseling for PTSD in Family Members;; Marital &
Family Therapists Description


There is so much information, etc., that we needed to share about PTSD Medications, that
the subject has its own page.  
CLICK HERE to go to our "Medications for PTSD" page.

Non-Traditional Treatments for PTSD

PTSD Service Dogs
Art & Music Therapy
Drama Therapy
Tapping Technique
Qi Gong

*For more about non-traditional treatments for PTSD, visit our "Alternative
Treatments for PTSD" section.*
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