Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: Symptoms and Treatment at VR Therapy
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur after an individual experiences a traumatic event, or series of traumatic events. While the effects of trauma are often complex, and vary considerably between individuals, symptoms may include frequent distressing memories, nightmares, or thoughts related to the event(s). People with PTSD may also start to avoid things in their lives that may remind them of their trauma, either directly or indirectly--sometimes even avoiding activities they may have previously enjoyed. Additionally, individuals with PTSD may be "on edge" more often than not, being quick to anger, easily startled, or have difficulty sleeping. Whether the violence experienced or witnessed was related to an assault, accident, combat, sexual abuse, or any other violent act or event, post-traumatic symptoms can occur in anyone, regardless of age, sex, and gender, or any personal characteristics.
For a comprehensive description of PTSD symptoms, please visit the National Institute of Mental Health's page on post-traumatic stress disorder: NIMH PTSD Page
How VR Therapy can help with PTSD
When we begin to work with you at VR Therapy, we will take into consideration not only the trauma you experienced, but also your unique strengths, beliefs, and all the other characteristics that make you who you are. Your therapist will learn about all the areas you would like to work on, while also helping to identify everything related to your traumatic experience that may be affecting you. A unique treatment plan will then be created will then be shaped around your particular experiences and goals, and will most likely consist of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and a form of exposure therapy that has been shown to be highly effective in treating PTSD. The overall plan will help you emotionally process the traumatic memories and learn to overcome the everyday difficulties you may be facing.
The first portion of your treatment plan will most likely focus on learning breathing and relaxation techniques, while you also learn about the treatment process itself and how it will be working for you as you progress through treatment. As you continue, and depending on your specific needs, our virtual reality (VR) system may be used to help you work through specific areas of your treatment plan. For instance, for an individual who may be experiencing extreme anxiety whenever they are in a setting that has reminders of their traumatic experience(s), we can recreate the environment in the safety of our VR room, including any sights, sounds, smells, or sensation that are relevant to the individual's situation. During the this process, you will have the help and guidance of a licensed therapist, as well as any family members you may wish to be present. As you work at a self-determined pace through the virtual environments that will be built specifically for you, you will have the opportunity to gradually overcome, and eventually master, the difficulties from your past, as well as any you may be currently facing in your life.