1) Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can completely take over the lives of those it affects. Because of the sensitive nature of PTSD, any and all interventions taken must ensure that they do not further upset the fragile psyche of the sufferer. While treatment of PTSD can last for a great deal of time and often produces mixed results, there are many different appropriate goals for intervention that can help in both the short-term and the long-term.
PTSD can be caused from any number of traumatic events, from being in a war zone to rape to a simple traumatic childhood event. The diversity of possible causes of PTSD makes intervention difficult, but not impossible, as one could not treat the PTSD of a child as the same as a combat veteran. However, many traits of PTSD are similar in all sufferers, leading to a general course of intervention. Appropriate short term goals for sufferers like Vietnam veteran, Carl, can include simply being able to discuss his experiences and fears by establishing trust.
In hoping to eliminate the fear that grips through intervention, steps must be taken to reduce fear of provoking stimuli, modify counterproductive thoughts, and reduce overall stress (McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2007). In reducing the fear of provoking stimuli, systematic desensitization can be utilized to help the sufferer eliminate the condition that causes the fear; this can be accomplished through relaxation exercises, often around the same things that caused the fear in the first place.
For example, Carl’s fears stem from his war experience, so controlled exposure to images and sounds of war can help desensitize him and remove much of the fear. Reducing the fear of a PTSD is probably the most appropriate short-term goal for intervention. 2) Appropriate long-term goals for intervention of PTSD are designed at helping the sufferer reestablish the confidence and coping mechanisms that may have been lost in the trauma.
PTSD often leads the sufferer to become isolated, withdrawn, hyper-vigilance, irritable, and suicidal. It is very important that those with PTSD continue to seek out friends, family, and utilize them as support systems. Things like denial do not work to alleviate the symptoms of PTSD, and simply lead to anger and more isolation. About his PTSD, Carl explains how he continues to feel the emotional scars of his Vietnam experience, and spent a great deal of time focused on it.
While he admits that he may never be able to abandon his thoughts, he has learned to find comfort in his family, its traditions, and his heritage. His belief that family is to be nurtured and protected has allowed him to become a more productive member of society, including working as a social worker for veterans. Carl achieved the ultimate long-term goal for this intervention, which is always to allow the PTSD sufferer to learn to alleviate their own pain through the help of a strong support system.
While treatment may be a lifelong process, finding strength in friends, family, and society in general can help a PTSD sufferer become fully functioning again.
McGraw-Hill Higher Education. (2007). Faces of Abnormal Psychology Interactive: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Retrieved July 8, 2009, from http://www. mhhe. com/socscience/psychology/faces/smlvid. swf