What Happens at a PTSD Center?

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  • Written By: Dawn Williams
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 02 August 2019
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Mental health facilities that serve clients with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) provide diagnostic and treatment services. Some facilities provide these services on an outpatient basis, and others offer inpatient programs. Initial treatment usually lasts three to six months but sometimes requires a year or more. Knowing what happens in a PTSD center can reduce any anxiety that someone might have about the process. The various treatments performed at a PTSD center might include exposure therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, cognitive-behavioral therapy, art therapy and even hypnosis.

When a client seeks help at a PTSD center, an evaluation is performed to identify the cause, as well as symptoms and their intensity, and to diagnose any coexisting conditions. The results of this evaluation are used to develop an individual treatment plan. Working with a therapist at the PTSD center, the client then begins the treatment process.

One of the most commonly used approaches is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). The goal of CBT is to help the client examine his or her thoughts and feelings regarding the event that led to PTSD. The beliefs that one attaches to an event affect the way he or she feels and reacts to the surrounding world. Through CBT, the client learns to identify distressing thoughts and change them in ways that reduce anxiety and allow him or her to respond more positively to daily life.


Other approaches include exposure therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Exposure therapy gradually desensitizes the client to the fear and anxiety connected with the traumatic event. EMDR has been shown to reduce PTSD symptoms through the use of bilateral eye movements, tapping or audio stimulation.

Additional therapies such as art therapy, hypnosis, family or group therapy are sometimes incorporated into the treatment plan. In some cases, medications including antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs or tranquilizers are prescribed to help relieve PTSD symptoms on a short-term basis.

The goal of the work done at a PTSD center is always to help the client come to terms with the traumatic event that caused the condition, to help him or her develop more productive thoughts and behaviors in his or her present circumstances and to reduce or eliminate symptoms associated with the disorder. The suffering caused by these symptoms and the effect that they have on the client’s job, schoolwork and/or relationships are usually what prompt the client to seek help. PTSD affects about 10 percent of adults and children at some point in their lives. Common causes include experiencing or witnessing extreme or repeated violence, sexual assault, natural disasters, accidents and combat. PTSD symptoms can occur right after the traumatic event, but some people develop the disorder weeks or years after the trauma.



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