Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that can develop after witnessing or personally experiencing a traumatic life event that may have caused physical harm to someone. These events may include assault, sexual abuse, unexpected death, house fire, an accident, war or a natural disaster.
Certain reactions are natural after these stressful types of events, but they should decrease and eventually go away over time. People diagnosed with PTSD continue to persistently experience these reactions, sometimes in increasing and intense amounts, long after the event, and in such a way that it causes significant distress in their daily lives. Symptoms of traumatic events can include:
- Bad dreams
- Recurring scary thoughts
- Feeling worried or guilty
- Increased arousal
- Feeling alone
- Trouble sleeping
- Feeling restless
- Feeling angry
If these symptoms are not resolved within four weeks of the traumatic event, and lasts for more than six months or gets worse over time, you may be suffering from PTSD. These symptoms can be effectively treated with the help of a trained psychologist.
The goal of psychological testing is to create a comprehensive assessment of the patient. Psychological testing uses a variety of techniques to assess a person’s behavior, personality, and capabilities. Psychological testing should be conducted by a licensed psychologist experienced in the performance and interpretation of psychological tests.
Before psychological testing begins, a formal interview is conducted by the psychologist with the patient. The interview usually lasts 30 to 60 minutes. During the interview the psychologist will ask the patient questions about his or her childhood, personal history, and family background, as well as about certain experiences the patient may have had at home, at school, at work, or at play.
Following the initial interview, the patient will be asked to complete a standardized psychological assessment administered by the psychologist. These tests are designed to determine specific aspects of the patient’s skills, knowledge, and/or personality. Standardized psychological tests allow the psychologist to measure the patient’s results against a specific measurement scale for a specific analytical concept.
If the patient is a young child, observations of the child in his or her natural setting, such as the home, school, or neighborhood, may provide the psychologist with valuable information in the child’s psychological assessment. How the child is treated by other children, teachers, and parents can help the psychologist make a psychological evaluation of the child.
In addition to standardized psychological tests, the psychologist may also make use of other materials, including projective tests, occupational tests, and academic tests to aid in the evaluation of the patient’s strengths as well as weaknesses.
Psychotherapy treatment involves a variety of structured, well-researched methods for modifying a person's emotional or behavioral patterns that interfere with healthy functioning and coping. Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy or counseling is done by a psychologist, skilled in evidenced-based cognitive-behavioral techniques, which can help you learn more effective ways to identify underlying feelings, and challenge unhealthy thoughts, moods and behaviors associated with them. Psychotherapy can help relieve problems caused by emotional difficulties or other stressful life issues including grief, anger, relationship problems, eating disorders or personality disorders. Sessions typically last 50 to 60 minutes and can be done alone, or with others such as family members. Some of the most effective psychotherapy approaches used are:
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: a structured, well-researched, problem-solution focused approach that aims to collaboratively assist individuals to identify improper automatic thoughts and self-perceptions that may be contributing to problematic behaviors. Through this approach, the psychologist assists the individual to develop newer, more effective thought processes, allowing them to make better, more accurate assumptions about themselves and others. It can successfully change behaviors, providing the individual with a better understanding of their situation and allowing them to positively change their ways. With a willingness to be open, honest and form a partnership with your psychologist, psychotherapy can be extremely successful.
- Interpersonal Therapy: focuses on an individual's current relationships and problems and how these are associated with interpersonal conflicts or disputes, lowered self-esteem and social role transitions to name a few. This approach aims to improve social skills and boost self-esteem and interpersonal therapy works especially well for depression.