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What Does a PTSD Counselor Do?

By Micah MacBride
Updated May 17, 2024
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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a problem that afflicts many people who have experienced a life-changing negative event. These individuals generally suffer from constant anxiety that can affect their lives and relationships with friends, family, and loved ones. A PTSD counselor is a professional who counsels those suffering from PTSD to cope with anxiety through therapy, facilitates support groups, and assists patients in obtaining help for other related problems, such as substance abuse or depression.

PTSD can affect individuals who have experienced a variety of traumatic events. These can include terrorist attacks, war, domestic violence, rape, and serving time in prison. While medical professionals are not sure of precisely what happens to the brain to cause PTSD, the individual can feel constantly anxious, develop a short temper, over-react to loud noises, or have mental flashbacks to the traumatic event he or she experienced.

Part of what a PTSD counselor does is to help an individual open up and share his or her experience and feelings about it, rather than keeping these details inside. This can involve talking to the individual about his or her experience, and facilitating support groups with others who suffer from PTSD. These forums can allow sufferers to see that they are not alone, which can help ease the feeling of stigma that many feel is attached to having PTSD.

In addition to support groups, a PTSD counselor usually meets with patients on a one-on-one basis, for therapy. These sessions generally focus on helping the sufferer to understand how the traumatic experience is affecting him or her, and why it is causing anxiety and any other physiological reactions. The eventual goal of the PTSD counselor is to assist the individual in ways to remember the traumatic experience without feeling as if he or she is reliving it. The counselor can also teach a client coping techniques to manage his or her feelings of anxiety if they do occur.

Those suffering from PTSD often have other problems that may have been caused by related anxiety. These can include alcoholism, depression, and drug abuse. A PTSD counselor can identify these issues and assist a patient in finding further help for dealing with them. This may involve referrals to other therapists who can prescribe medications that can better manage a patient's depression while undergoing anxiety counseling or therapy. PTSD counselors can also help individuals find recovery programs and support groups to overcome substance abuse issues related to the post-traumatic stress.

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