PTSD Focused Counseling in Denver: How Successful Are Treatments for PTSD?
This question varies, but if you’re looking for a straightforward answer. In my practice, Kostic Therapy located in Greenwood Village, I specialize in a method known as Prolonged Exposure to address PTSD. PE therapy has a high success rate, with symptom improvement seen in approximately 80% to 90% of individuals who undergo the treatment.
PE (Prolonged Exposure) is a well-researched treatment for PTSD. It has been studied in many scientific trials, and the results show that it is very effective in reducing PTSD symptoms. In one study, female survivors of sexual assault who received PE had the most significant improvement in symptoms compared to other therapies. In general, about half of the people who start PE no longer have PTSD by the end of treatment, and this number increases for those who complete the therapy.
But, do most people with PTSD recover? Is it even worth it to try and invest time and money in this process?
I completely understand your concerns about PTSD and the recovery process, especially after living with it for what feels like years on end. You’ll be surprised to see what an incredible journey filled with support, understanding, and even a few quirky moments that make the process feel more human and comforting.
One of the things you'll quickly notice about me is my genuine compassion and the way I create a warm and non-judgmental space for my clients. I’m a great listener and have an uncanny ability to understand your feelings and experiences, even when you struggle to put them into words. You'll feel like you're talking to a friend who truly cares about your well-being.
Many people with PTSD have experienced significant improvement in their symptoms and overall well-being through my PTSD focused program. Our work together will include working collaboratively with you, ensuring that you feel safe, understood, and empowered throughout the process. I will help you explore and process your emotions and memories at a pace that feels comfortable for you, respecting any challenges you may encounter along the way and nudging you to continue when things get tough.
How long does it take for PTSD treatment to work?
Generally, PE is a time-limited treatment that typically consists of approximately 8 to 15 sessions, with each session lasting about 60 to 90 minutes. In some cases, clients may start to notice improvements in their symptoms after just a few sessions. You might begin to experience a reduction in the intensity of their distressing memories and find it easier to confront triggers associated with your trauma.
“PE therapy has a high success rate, with symptom improvement seen in approximately 80% to 90% of individuals who undergo the treatment.”
However, this is a highly personal experience. I once worked with a client who was fully ready to commit to the process and their life permitted the conditions ideal for healing. This client had a stable job that didn’t have any major stressors that year, a stable support system and the motivation to feel better. Once we started therapy, during our fourth session together, my client shared about his recent mother's passing. This took prevalence over the process as the grief process took over. This made us adapt our style to a different therapeutic technique that allowed the client to grieve safely in this space with me, and restart PE once he felt he was back to that stronger place. We may make plans of how long we’d like it to last or how quickly we’d like to progress, but we won’t truly know until we embark on the journey.
Ultimately, the goal of PE therapy is to help you confront and process your traumatic memories safely and reduce the avoidance and emotional numbing that often accompany PTSD. By gradually facing the memories in a safe and controlled environment, you can learn to reprocess the traumatic events and integrate them into your life, leading to a reduction in PTSD symptoms over time.
How hard is it to recover from PTSD?
This question may be best represented by a Case Study example. Let me introduce you to Sarah, a fictional example client, to illustrate the process of recovering from PTSD using Prolonged Exposure (PE) and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (SP) therapy at Kostic Therapy.
Sarah is a young adult in her mid 20’s who experienced a traumatic event during a night out in college. She has been struggling with nightmares, flashbacks, and intense anxiety since the moment it happened, despite her best efforts at trying to continue a life as it used to be. She has difficulty focusing at work and sometimes old memories taint the experience of being around a large group of friends.
When Sarah starts therapy with me, she is understandably nervous and hesitant about revisiting the traumatic memories as she’s unsure about whether revisiting these memories will help in any way. We decide to create a blend of PE and SP, to help her nervous system calm down as we build a strong therapeutic alliance and help her understand that the treatment will be gradual and tailored to her pace.
During the initial sessions, Sarah learns relaxation techniques and coping skills to manage anxiety and distress. Then, we introduced a gentle imaginal exposure. Sarah is asked to recount her traumatic experiences to a degree she’s within her window of tolerance, imagining them in a safe and controlled environment. This process can be emotionally overwhelming initially, but I work with Sarah to find a tolerance level that feels supportive.
As Sarah progresses, areas that have been healed related to her trauma translate to handling real-life situations better, exposing herself to situations or places that she has been avoiding due to the distress they cause. I help Sarah process her thoughts and emotions, reinforcing the idea that confronting these triggers lead to a reduction in their power over her.
As the weeks go by, Sarah notices subtle changes in her responses to triggers. She realizes that her nightmares and flashbacks become less frequent and less intense. She also becomes more confident in managing her anxiety and starts to engage more fully with her family and friends.
Though the journey is not without its ups and downs, she perseveres with the support of the therapeutic relationship. As the treatment progresses, she gains a deeper understanding of her trauma and its impact on her life. She learns that it's okay to feel discomfort during therapy, and it does not mean she is weak or failing.
As Sarah completes therapy, she reflects on her progress and acknowledges the resilience she has developed throughout the process. While not all her PTSD symptoms have completely disappeared, she feels significantly better equipped to cope with them with self compassion and a manageable tolerance. She now has a newfound sense of hope for the future and a belief that she can continue to build on the progress she has made in therapy.
This journey is a testament to the strength and courage it takes to recover from PTSD. It is a gradual process, but with the right therapy, support, and determination, you, like Sarah, can experience significant improvement in your symptoms and regain control of your life.