Health Assured team

27 January 2020

In a previous article, we defined Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as well as its causes and symptoms.

In it, we explained that PTSD is an anxiety disorder an individual develops after involvement in or witnessing, a stressful or traumatic event. When trauma occurs, it can have detrimental effects on mental wellbeing which goes on to affect all aspects of an individual’s life.

Within the work environment, it may lead employees to display a variety of symptoms that may be detrimental to your business efforts. This includes poor relationships with co-workers, increased absences and a decline in productivity.

If you require urgent assistance managing an employee with PTSD, contact one of the helpful BACP qualified counsellors at Health Assured on 0844 892 2493.

We offer Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) to help PTSD sufferers to normalise the overwhelming psychological, physiological and emotional responses to minor, moderate and severe critical incidents.

This piece explores cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for PTSD. In it, we’ll highlight the main treatments available as well as the benefits of using CBT for this disorder.


How to treat PTSD with CBT

The first step on the quest for treatment for PTSD is an assessment. While the initial assessment may be carried out by a GP, if it lasts longer than four weeks (or longer) they may refer the case to a medical specialist for further assessment.

While two out of three people who experience a traumatic event get better without treatment with a few weeks, other people don’t and will require some sort of treatment.

Depending on the severity of individual cases, there are two main treatments available for treating PSTD.

  1. Medication
  2. Talking therapy



While people experiencing PTSD aren’t often prescribed medication as treatment, it may be needed when the individual:

  • Is unwilling (or unable) to try trauma-focused CBT
  • Also has depression
  • Has trouble sleeping because of PTSD

In any of these situations, a medical professional will prescribe medication to the individual experiencing PTSD.

While there’re a variety of antidepressants for this purpose, according to the NHS, the only ones licensed for the treatment of PTSD is paroxetine and sertraline.

Although some other medications have also been found to be effective for treatment for PTSD, they include:

  • Mirtazapine
  • Amitriptyline
  • Phenelzine


Talking therapy

There’s a proverbial saying that goes, “a problem shared is a problem halved. This simply means the first step to resolving issues is by talking to someone (friends or family).

The same applies to mental health. In most cases, all an individual needs is for someone to listen. Which is why psychological therapy is prescribed as the first course of treatment for PTSD.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends two forms of talking therapy for treating PTSD:

  1. Trauma-focused CBT.
  2. Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR).

Although EMDR is a relatively new treatment, it’s been found to help to reduce the symptoms of PTSD. It involves making eye movements usually following the therapist’s fingers or to a tone while recalling the traumatic event.

According to, the rapid eye movements are meant to recreate the same effect as the way the brain processes memories and experiences while sleeping.

In terms of CBT for trauma, it’s been found to help people come to terms with a traumatic event (or events) using a range of psychological techniques.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT is a form of psychotherapy that traces an individual’s patterns of thought to identify and challenge negative behaviour and attitudes.

As well as its effectiveness for addressing issues with anxiety and depression, it also helps to treat PTSD and other mood disorders.

But how effective is CBT for PTSD?

Trauma-based CBT has been found to be the most effective course of treatment for treating PTSD complex PTSD. The therapist helps the sufferer come to terms with their trauma by asking them to confront the traumatic memories by thinking about the experience in detail.

A review of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for complex PTSD by PhD Michelle Lonergan concluded that while CBT is the most compelling evidence for the treatment of PTSD, in more complex cases, it might contribute to poorer treatment response. Although this may be explained by individual differences in stable personality-related features, including difficulties with affect regulation and interpersonal relationships.


CBT exercises for PTSD

Apart from talking, there’re various worksheets and exercises available to strengthen the effects of CBT treatment.

  • Automatic Thought Record (ATR): It’s the most popular and useful exercises for CBT. It helps PTSD sufferers look inwards and reflect on their reactions to a given situation.
  • Cognitive triangle: This exercise focuses on the interconnectedness of our thoughts, emotions and behaviours. It’s based on the idea that they influence each other so changing one can influence change in another.
  • Art therapy: With this form of therapy and an experienced professional, patients can use art-based activities to make sense of things, understand themselves better, resolve complicated feelings or find ways to live with them.


Expert support

To find out more about how Health Assured’s Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) services can benefit your business, get in touch with our dedicated team today on 0844 892 2493.

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