4 Types of Trauma Therapy Used to Treat Survivor’s Guilt PTSD
Survivor’s guilt is a common symptom of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is a common reaction to traumatic events and includes strong feelings of guilt related to surviving a life-threatening situation when others around them did not. Survivors may wonder why they deserved to survive, while others perished. Survivors may also blame
themselves for not doing more to save others or help remedy the situation.
Survivor’s guilt PTSD can have an overall negative effect on one’s mental health, quality of life, and ability to function properly in society. There are many modalities of therapy available that can assist in treating this pernicious disorder. Reaching out for help to receive treatment at a place such as Serenity, can help you regain control over your life and restore peace of mind.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a modality of therapy intervention that can be helpful in the treatment of survivor’s guilt PTSD. Rumination is often a common characteristic of survivor’s guilt and CBT interventions which are designed to target rumination guilt can be successful. CBT is designed to help one break down problems into smaller parts, making an overwhelming situation easier. It is based on the concept that negative feelings can trap one in a negative cycle since all our thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, and actions are interconnected. These interventions disrupt a survivor’s negative rumination cycle and instead encourages an acceptance of the fact of survival. Replacing non-realistic negatively skewed thoughts with more optimistic ones can help alleviate feelings of guilt and blame.
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is also a powerful tool in the treatment of survivor’s guilt. The counselor and client first identify a negative self-belief, such as “I could have done more to save the other person’s life.” The client then activates themselves by thinking about that distressing thought as the counselor uses bilateral stimulation. Bilateral stimulations can involve finger and eye movements, tappers, or bilateral music. This technique allows the client and counselor to break down the event so they can work on rewiring the way the memory is understood. The practice essentially opens communication between the conscious and subconscious mind. Clients can learn to cope with the emotions when they are triggered and rationalize the traumatic events by analyzing the negative self-beliefs with processing and desensitizing the experience.
Individuals with PTSD are often in a state of hyperarousal. Hyperarousal can alter a person’s perceptions and make it difficult to rationally process one’s feelings. Interventions which allow a person to process emotions in a bottom-up approach, an unconscious level, are often more effective in treating survivors’ guilt and other symptoms of trauma. Brainspotting (BSP), is a therapeutic approach developed by Dr. David Grand which assists a client in guiding themselves through their subconscious to process and desensitize trauma. This method uses fixed, steady eye positions that communicate to unprocessed trauma in the subcortical brain. BSP is a gentle approach in alleviating symptoms of survivor’s guilt PTSD.
Another available option at Serenity, is neuro-feedback therapy. PTSD can have a large impact on physiological processes, especially those related to the brain. Neurofeedback has been proven to alleviate those symptoms so one’s brain and body can find a state of calm. Individuals who have done neurofeedback therapy have reported a decrease in PTSD symptoms, including feelings of calm and healthy reactions to situations. This therapy helps to pinpoint neurological pathways in the brain where one stores PTSD and strengthens other neurological pathways in the brain that are being neglected. It essentially helps one’s brain waves to work in harmony and to “train” the abnormally fast or slow brain waves to move at a normal pace.
The weight of survivor’s guilt PTSD can be crushing. There are many modalities of life reaffirming treatment at your fingertips. Therapists are here to help alleviate this burden and to assist in returning clients to a higher quality of life.