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Managing Post Trauma Stress

The symptoms of Post Trauma Stress begin to be expressed following a stressful event or the witnessing of a stressful event of an extremely threatening nature. It involves an intense and recurring fear combined with a sense of hopelessness and helplessness in regards to controlling it. Experiencing this level of fear may also include periods of feeling agitated and of being disconnected from yourself (dis-associated).

Symptoms of Post Trauma Stress may also include one or more of the following:

  • Recurrent and intrusive distressing recollections of the event, e.g. images, thoughts or perceptions
  • Distressing dreams of the event or nightmares
  • Feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring e.g. flashbacks, illusions and hallucinations
  • Distress at exposure to perceived internal or external triggers
  • Detachment – unable to have loving feelings
  • Hypervigilance – heightened monitoring of the environment for perceived danger

CBT is the recommended therapeutic approach by the NICE Guidelines for Clinical Excellence (UK) for managing symptoms of Post Trauma Stress. It can support the individual in the following ways

Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy helps the PTSD sufferer to:

  • Confront traumatic memories with less fear
  • Change mis-interpretations and have a realistic perception of threat in the present
  • Develop skills to cope with stress
  • CBT handouts will include self-supportive statements, thought records for PTS, De-sensitization exercises, journaling specific to processing trauma, distraction techniques. Trauma focused exercises to support affect on physiological level
  • Becoming aware and changing ‘faulty’ trauma focused thinking
  • Mindfulness stress reduction skills to observe ‘trauma thoughts’ rather than engage with them – notice them but understand the here and now safety
  • Mindfulness refocusing techniques – on environment and stress reduction breath-work
  • Will also include Safe Place visualisations
  • Cognitive restructuring especially if unhelpful self-beliefs were established following the traumatic experience
  • Behavioural change – practiced in a challenging but not overwhelming way e.g. if a person is avoiding leaving the home due to PTS or avoiding driving following a road traffic accident, for example
  • Anger Management techniques – STOPP… fact or opinion, traffic light technique, thought records
  • Self-nurturing – recognising and changing toxic triggers and establishing a self-care plan

Please note, online CBT & Mindfulness Counselling is not suitable if symptoms include suicidal thoughts or ideation. Please attend your GP immediately, if you experience this, as you will require immediate support in your location.


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a type of psychotherapy that looks at:

  • The way you think about yourself/others
  • What you think about the situation or problem you are experiencing and
  • How what you do and feel is influenced by what you think and believe. It includes a solution-focused approach to problems and supports positive change with CBT worksheets

Mindfulness Therapy is beneficial because Mindfulness supports the body and the mind.

  • Integrating Mindfulness improves mental and physical health
  • It helps to relieve stress and improves clarity of mind
  • Mindfulness is supportive in the treatment of depression, low mood, anxiety, couples conflict and stress reduction
  • Mindfulness also helps people to manage painful emotions
(Harvard Medical School)