Post-traumatic stress disorder

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can start after any traumatic event or situation of an exceptionally threatening or catastrophic nature, which is likely to cause pervasive distress in almost anyone.

A traumatic event is one where we can see that we are in danger, our life is threatened, or where we witness other people dying, at risk of dying, or being injured. This creates intense feelings of fear, helplessness or horror. 

Traumatic and acquired brain injury is stressful for the entire family. This can impact on parents, siblings, and marital cohesion, and may be considered detrimental. Psychological challenges and traumatic stress symptoms are common among parents with children who had been admitted to Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). Parents may report significant and persisting distress long after discharge. Recolo's trauma-based intervention focuses on both the child's needs, as well as parents and siblings who may have been effected. 

The symptoms of PTSD can start after a delay of weeks, or even months. Individuals with PTSD generally suffer a triad of general symptoms: reliving of the traumatic event in the form of flashbacks or nightmares; emotional numbing; and heightened states of arousal, like jumpiness and irritability. We recognise that in diagnosis, the broad categories of PTSD symptoms are present in children as well as adults. However symptoms may differ in younger children (e.g. re-enacting, repetitive play, emotional and behavioural disturbances). Therefore all of our interventions are child-focused and age specific. 

All the effective psychotherapies for PTSD focus on the traumatic experiences that have produced the symptoms. Trauma-focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (TF-CBT) or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) are the first line treatment for people with more than a three month history of symptoms. 

We recognise that as a process of the therapy, it is important to spend time developing a trusting therapeutic relationship. Parents have an important role to play as co-therapists. As the therapy develops, the child and their family are educated about the process of coping with trauma and supported with stress-management training. Those impacted by the traumatic experiences are encouraged, with guidance, to re-experience and integrate the traumatic event into their lives and self-concepts.