Steps 2 Wellbeing

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Southampton City

Coping with the Symptoms of PTSD

Group psycho-education and skills focused course for those experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Have you experienced a trauma/traumas in the past that has/have left you feeling grief-stricken, depressed, anxious, guilty or angry? Do you experience flashbacks and/or nightmares which involve you reliving the event in your mind again and again? Do you try to avoid thinking about the event(s) and avoid things associated with the event(s)? Do you feel “on guard” all the time, anxious and have difficulty sleeping? Do you get physical symptoms such as aches and pains, diarrhoea, irregular heartbeats, headaches, feelings of panic and fear, depression? Are you tired of feeling this way?

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) for people who have experienced trauma has been shown to be a highly effective treatment. This group focuses on stabilising you prior to commencement of one-to-one therapy, with strategies, techniques and psycho-education, so that your memories become less distressing and more manageable. You will need to be open to trying new approaches and being able to devote time to practising the skills that you will be taught outside of the sessions themselves.

Specific modules include:

  • An introduction to PTSD, how it affects you and how the group can help

  • Managing anxiety and calming down

  • Grounding techniques, coping with dissociation and nightmares

  • Coping with flashbacks

  • Practising self-compassion and reclaiming your life

  • Summary and Coping Skills plan

The group is comprised of 6 weekly sessions each lasting 2 hours, including a short break. We aim to have up to 12 participants in each group.

Frequently asked Questions

Will I have to talk? Will I have to share anything personal? Anything about my past?

This is often people’s biggest concerns before attending a course, and it’s very understandable as some people may worry they will feel uncomfortable talking in a group. The course is very much focused on understanding and treating symptoms of trauma, and this is what our discussions will be focused on. We will not discuss individual traumas and we will never ask you to share personal information, talk about your past, or disclose something you feel uncomfortable sharing. It’s very common to feel nervous in the first session, and the course facilitators are aware of this. We often find that as you get to know more about how the course runs, people tend to feel more comfortable within a group environment. So if you are unsure we would always suggest coming along to the first few sessions to see how you find it, as we can always review treatment options if you decide the course isn’t right for you.

How many people attend the course?

We usually expect up to 12 people. Everyone on the course is experiencing very similar trauma symptoms, and we will discuss and agree rules to protect everyone’s confidentiality at the beginning of the first session.

What if I can’t make it to one week?

We understand that 6 weeks is quite a commitment, but we also know regular attendance of sessions is important to get the most benefit from your treatment. We ask that you let us know if you are unable to attend a session, and we would usually give you the course materials for that week so you are able to read through and ask any questions when you return to the following session. We usually advise if you miss more than one session, it would be helpful for us to review your treatment plan together, as it may not be beneficial to continue with the course.

Will hearing other people’s symptoms make me worse?

Again this is a very common question asked before attending the course, some people may worry that being in a group may just give them more things to feel distressed about. Often we find coming to the course actually helps people to feel more in control of their symptoms as it’s reassuring to hear other people feel the same a lot of the time. Our sessions are not spent analysing each person’s trauma, instead we try to step back and understand patterns in how we feel, think and behave with things.