PTSD Treatment Sydney


PTSD is currently a controversial subject.  Much of the controversy surrounds causes, diagnosis and treatment.

My understanding of PTSD is informed by the research and thinking of Bessel Van der Kolk, who focuses on the impact of trauma on the autonomic nervous system (ANS).

Van der Kolk himself is a controversial figure in the field who is criticized by many of his medical counterparts.  Nevertheless, like him, I think talking about the events that caused PTSD can only take you so far. Instead, I believe that body based treatments that focus on the assault to the body’s mechanism for signalling danger have better treatment outcomes. 

My treatment approach focuses on turning off the faulty danger signal so that the person’s nervous system, not just there thinking mind, realizes that the trauma is over.  In that way I emphasize a bottom-up approach (body-based) rather than a top-down approach (talk-therapy).

The symptoms of PDST are long and varied. The intensity and frequency of symptoms can also vary. They include -

·         Bad dreams, or distressing memories about the trauma

·         Flashbacks

·         Dissociative reactions or loss of awareness of present surroundings

·         Having a lot emotional feelings when reminded of the trauma

·         Having a lot of emotional feelings with no apparent trigger

·         Having a lot of physical sensations when reminded of the trauma (heart pounds or misses a beat, sweating, difficulty breathing, feeling faint, feeling a loss of control)

·         Having a lot of physical sensations without an apparent trigger

·         Having difficulty remembering an important part of the original trauma

·         Feeling numb or detached from things

·         Lack of interest in social activities

·         Inability to experience positive moods

·         Sleeping difficulties including trouble falling or staying asleep

·         Irritability and outbursts of anger

·         Difficulty concentrating

·         Feeling easily startled

·         Excess Awareness (hypervigilance)

·         Depersonalization and/or Derealization

Of Note – One of the important ideas coming out of Bessel Van der Kolk’s work is that it is not necessary for “an event” to occur for someone to have PTSD.  His research shows that many children develop PTSD within families because of the nature of the family interaction.  Over a fifteen year period, Van der Kolk wanted a diagnosis reflecting this kind of trauma  listed in the medical manual( the DSM5).  He and his co-researchers wanted it to be  called “Disorders of Extreme Stress” or “Complex PTSD”  and, much later “Developmental Trauma Disorder” but this did not happen.  Regardless, many therapists interested in trauma have accepted his view.