What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

CMH Services | Post-Traumatic Stress DisorderPost Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can develop after someone experiences or witnesses a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault. Upsetting memories, having trouble sleeping, or feeling on edge are all normal symptoms after experiencing this type of event. However, if symptoms last more than a few months, you may be experiencing PTSD.

Why should I get treated for PTSD?

If left untreated, PTSD usually doesn’t get better, and it may even get worse. The good news is that there are effective treatments for PTSD. For some, treatment can lessen the severity of symptoms; for others, it can get rid of PTSD altogether. Even if you’ve been grappling with PTSD for years, treatment can help.

What kind of treatments do you offer?

At The Center for Mental Health, Ridgway, we offer a variety of evidence-based practices which have been clinically tested to treat PTSD, including Cognitive Processing Therapy, Prolonged Exposure Therapy, and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)
After experiencing trauma, it’s common to have negative thoughts—like thinking the traumatic event is your fault or that the world is a dangerous place. CPT helps you learn to recognize and alter these thoughts. Changing how you think about the trauma can help change how you feel.

During CPT, your therapist will teach you to recognize the distressing thoughts and help you think about your trauma in a less upsetting way. Treatment usually occurs once a week and lasts an average of 12 sessions, with a recommended follow-up session around 30 days post-treatment. At that point, if you still have symptoms, you and your therapist can discuss other ways to manage them.

Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE)
People who suffer from PTSD often try to avoid things that remind them of the trauma they experienced. Although this might make them feel better in the short term, in the long term it can prevent them from recovering from PTSD.

In PE therapy, you expose yourself to those thoughts, feelings, and situations that you’ve been avoiding due to the trauma you experienced. Though it sounds scary, addressing things you are afraid of in a safe way can help you learn that you don’t need to avoid reminders of the trauma. You will gain control of your thoughts and emotions regarding the trauma; this in turn helps you overcome your fear of the memories of your trauma.

PE therapy significantly reduces the symptoms of PTSD as well as symptoms of depression, anger, and anxiety. PE therapy also helps clients gain confidence, and they experience improvement in many areas of their daily lives.

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)
TF-CBT is a treatment for children and adolescents who have experienced trauma, and their parents or caregivers. Over the course of 8-25 sessions, children are encouraged to discuss their traumatic experiences in a supportive environment.  They work through their traumatic memories and learn to control problematic thoughts and behaviors.  TF-CBT also helps them to develop positive coping and interpersonal skills, which allow them to better handle the stressors of ordinary life.

TF-CBT also includes a treatment component for parents or other caregivers who were not abusive. Parents can learn skills that support their children such as positive parenting, stress management, behavior management, and effective communication. They also learn to cope effectively with their own emotional distress about the child’s traumatic experiences.

TF-CBT is highly effective at improving the symptoms of youth PTSD; however, a PTSD diagnosis is not required in order to receive this treatment.

Contact Us

Please contact The Center for Mental Health at 970.252.3200 to set up PTSD therapy services.

1. National Center. (2013, August 15). National Center for PTSD. (
2. Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A Primer for Child Welfare Professionals. (2018, October). (