PTSD Training For Therapists

 Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder that occurs when someone goes through something incredibly stressful, traumatic, or distressing. This can make it difficult for individuals to lead their everyday lifestyle, as they may feel nervous, anxious, stressed, or experience flashbacks and nightmares.

PTSD is one of the more severe mental health disorders, but it is one that can be helped with therapy. If you’re interested in offering PTSD services to help clients then you’ll need to make sure you have the proper training. 

Below, we detail the training you need to help clients with PTSD. 

Woman in therapy holding her hand against her head.

What Is PTSD?

With PTSD, most clients have been directly exposed to, or have experienced a traumatic event. PTSD Training equips therapists with the tools to assess, diagnose, and treat those with PTSD. 

They may have witnessed this person, or seen this event happen to others around them. In some cases, they may still be repeatedly exposed to the trauma, which can significantly affect how they function and behave in day to day life, and can negatively impact their relationships and interactions (see also our article on narcissistic relationships) (see also our article on narcissistic relationships) (see also our article on narcissistic relationships).

A trained therapist will be able to help those affected by PTSD gain a sense of control over their symptoms and subsequently their lives.

Treatment often involves teaching the client the skills to address their symptoms and triggers, along with resources and knowledge of how to better think about themselves.

You can also help them learn to cope with their symptoms, emotions and feelings should they arise again, and treat other issues related to the trauma such as substance abuse, anxiety, and depression.

What Is PTSD Training For Therapists?

PTSD training often involves all of the tools of the trade. This may include training in cognitive therapy, exposure therapy and EMDR.

Cognitive therapy is a type of talking therapy (see also ‘DBT Training For Therapists‘), which helps individuals recognize their cognitive patterns and ways of thinking, to realign their beliefs and feelings about themselves. This is very beneficial for PTSD as the client may be traumatized. It can help them restructure their thoughts, flashbacks, and worries.

Cognitive therapy is often used in conjunction with exposure therapy for PTSD sufferers.

Exposure therapy involves the client safely facing their fears to help them learn how to cope with them more effectively. This is often helpful for those suffering from nightmares and flashbacks of the trauma.

PTSD training for therapists may also involve being trained in Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR): a series of guided eye movements that help clients to process painful memories and alter their reaction to it.

In addition, PTSD training may also involve stress management skills, and courses on how to deliver individual PTSD therapy and group therapy.

Therapy for PTSD can be incredibly painful for the client, as they must feel their emotions and face their fears in order to heal, which can be very difficult, and so you will need the skills to handle this also.

What Type Of Therapy Is Best For PTSD?

The primary treatment for PTSD tends to be psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. That being said, it is not a one size fits all treatment, and every client handles things differently, so this is more of a generalization than an overall rule.

Some clients will try a variety of different treatments before deciding which type of therapy is best for their PTSD.

The therapists that are most likely to use psychotherapy and CBT as treatment are psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, and mental health specialists. These therapists will be highly trained and experienced in PTSD services.

How Do You Train To Be A PTSD Therapist?

Just like any other therapist, you need at least a bachelor’s degree—which will likely be in psychology or an adjacent field of study.

Then, to be a licensed therapist, you’ll (likely) need at least a Master’s Degree, likely specializing in trauma or PTSD treatment in graduate school.  And then there’s clinical experience working with clients, under supervision, for at least 2 years. 

There are also plenty of PTSD training courses for therapists online that you can undertake to continue your education.

It may not count as training, but you will also need to know the licensing laws particular to your state (at least in the United States). 

PTSD Training For Therapists

There are a variety of courses to help therapists further their training. 

We recommend taking part in the Trauma and PTSD Training Series from the Cognitive Behavioral Consultants. CBT approaches are considered the gold standard for PTSD as recommended by the National Center for PTSD and the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.

It’s worth knowing that Cognitive and Behavioral Consultants (CBC) is approved by the American Psychological Association and the National Association of Social Workers.

For training on how to implement eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, take a look at the EMDR Institute, which offers a range of courses to upskill in this area of PTSD and trauma therapy.

Training is always a good idea, regardless of where you might be in your career. It helps build and reinforce skill that are essential in helping individuals overcome PTSD symptoms and trauma related mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, which can really help to make a positive impact on their lives.

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