It is the duty of the trauma informed practitioner to examine, diagnose and help the trauma victims recover from the ordeals that they may have encountered in the past or recent past. To help victims of the trauma to achieve optimal recovery, it is important to adhere to SAMHSA’s [Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration] key principles of a trauma-informed approach and in addition to that facilitate the findings with a trauma specific intervention (Garrick & Williams, 2006). The trauma-informed approach therefore is an independent practice that adheres to the following key principles:
· Trustworthiness and transparency,
· peer support collaboration and mutuality
· empowerment, voice and choice
· Cultural, historical and gender issues (Garrick & Williams, 2006)
The practices under trauma-specific interventions should be carried while protecting the victim’s need to be respected, informed and their right to patient doctor confidentiality; recognise the interrelation that occurs between the victims and his/her trauma symptoms such as anxiety attacks, withdrawals etc. ; the practitioner should appreciate the victim’s need to work together with the victim and his/her family through the treatment time (Marvasti, 2012).
Based on the principles discussed above and experiences from the day-to-day working environment, the most effective trauma informed approach in my line of work is ‘Seeking Safety’. This is a therapy approach for trauma, Post traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse (Garrick & Williams, 2006). Based on the day to day job of helping the war veterans and active service men suffering from PTSD, this approach is only used for treatment of PTSD and substance abuse at the PTSD treatment centre.
This technique has been proven to be effective when dealing with the PTSD victims at individual or group level. In addition to that the model of the therapy works for men, women or with mixed gender groups and this proves to be an advantage when compared with other approaches used in helping the PTSD victims (Conrad and Sauls, 2013). This approach is recommended for all age groups but is commonly used in the treatment of the PTSD Victims from deployment or ex-servicemen and women (Conrad and Sauls, 2013).
The seek safety technique for the treatment of PTSD spells out the importance of seeking safety of mind as the key objective (Garrick & Williams, 2006). This is achieved by using integrated treatments and therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy [CBT] and the prolonged exposure therapy [PE] (Garrick & Williams, 2006). In cognitive therapy, the therapist’s main objective is to help the victim understand and change his/her views as far as the traumatic ordeal is concerned. In addition to that, the therapist has a primary objective of helping the victim to discover how certain thoughts about his/her trauma may cause stress therefore making the symptoms worse. This in turn helps the victims cope up with adverse feelings such as anger, rage, fear and guilt (Garrick & Williams, 2006).
The second type of therapy is the exposure theory. The main objective of this technique is to help the victims overcome their fears by making them fearless to the traumatic ordeal memories (Marvasti, 2012). Since it is a norm for trauma victims to be afraid of the thoughts, feelings and circumstances that remind them or their traumatic event; the exposure theory helps solve this problem by creating a platform where the victims can freely discuss and talk about their trauma repeatedly in group sessions or with the therapists. This is done to aid the trauma victims take control of their thoughts and feelings about the trauma (Marvasti, 2012). This technique has been proven to be effective on PDST victims and not the perpetrators of the traumatic events such as rape, murder etc. (Marvasti, 2012)
Self-help for PTSD
The PTSD self-help mechanism is executed in three phases:
· Identify the factors that trigger the PTSD symptoms
This can be done in conjunction with a professional at the initial stages. This is because therapy is needed to overcome adverse symptoms such as fragmented memories and extreme flashbacks (Marvasti, 2012). To help the professionals in administering the proper therapy, it is important for the victim to know the vital signs of PTSD as shown below
Figure 1: vicious cogs of PTSD
· Overcoming the avoidance syndrome
The PTSD victims have a tendency of avoiding places, situations equipment, thoughts and even people that remind them of the traumatic event that they may have encountered in the past. On the contrary, this behavioural change only worsens the case and keeps the problem going indefinitely unless the victim seeks help (Marvasti, 2012). In addition to that, this also interferes with the victim’s day to day life. Psychologists have proven that repetitive voluntary visiting and interaction with the people and equipment that reminds them of the ordeal gradually helps overcome the fear that arises due to the memories and thoughts (Marvasti, 2012).
· Dealing with Memory
This is another significant step when it comes to dealing with PTSD. It takes it a notch high as far as avoidance is concerned and lot of care should be taken when trying to control the emotions and psychological end results when it comes to dealing with the memories (Garrick & Williams, 2006). PTSD victims should be encouraged to expose themselves voluntarily to situations that will enable them get past their trauma in controlled environment. For example, you can have group interaction sessions with the PTSD victims having the same problems (Garrick & Williams, 2006).
The advice to new recruits to this sector is that they should have an open mind when dealing with a PTSD victim and all principles according to the SAMHSA’s should be observed. Finally early intervention is key because if PTSD is not handled it may lead to death by suicide or other social problems like violence and addiction to substance abuse
Conrad, P. and Sauls, D. (2013). Deployment and PTSD in the female combat veteran: A systematicReview. Nursing Forum, 49(1), 1-10.
Garrick, J. and Williams, M (2006). Trauma treatment techniques. Binghamton, NY: Hawort Maltreatment and Trauma Press.
Marvasti, J. (2012) War trauma in Veterans and their familis. Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas.