Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a traumatic event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

Traumatic experiences may include:

  • being in a serious accident
  • being physically assaulted
  • being involved in a war – either as a civilian or as part of military operations
  • being involved in a natural disaster, such as a bushfire, flood or cyclone
  • being sexually assaulted or abused

A person with PTSD experiences four main types of difficulties:

  • Re-living the traumatic event – The person relives the event through unwanted and recurring memories, often in the form of vivid images and nightmares. There may be intense emotional or physical reactions, such as sweating, heart palpitations or panic when reminded of the event.
  • Being overly alert or wound up – The person experiences sleeping difficulties, irritability and lack of concentration, becoming easily startled and constantly on the lookout for signs of danger.
  • Avoiding reminders of the event – The person deliberately avoids activities, places, people, thoughts or feelings associated with the event because they bring back painful memories.
  • Feeling emotionally numb – The person loses interest in day-to-day activities, feels cut off and detached from friends and family, or feels emotionally flat and numb.


Many people experience some of the symptoms of PTSD in the first couple of weeks after a traumatic event, but most recover on their own or with the help of family and friends.

Psychotherapies are first-line treatments for PTSD. They include Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), cognitive and exposure therapies.

Two main recommended psychotherapies for PTSD:

Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE) Prolonged exposure is a specific type of cognitive behavioural therapy that teaches individuals to gradually approach trauma-related memories, feelings and situations.

Most people want to avoid anything that reminds them of the trauma they experienced, but doing so reinforces their fear. By facing what has been avoided, a person can decrease symptoms of PTSD by actively learning that the trauma-related memories and cues are not dangerous and do not need to be avoided.

This treatment is strongly recommended for the treatment of PTSD.

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is a specific type of cognitive behavioural therapy that has been effective in reducing symptoms of PTSD that have developed after experiencing a variety of traumatic events including child abuse, combat, rape and natural disasters.

CPT is generally delivered over 12 sessions and helps patients learn how to challenge and modify unhelpful beliefs related to the trauma. In so doing, the patient creates a new understanding and conceptualization of the traumatic event so that it reduces its ongoing negative effects on current life.

This treatment is strongly recommended for the treatment of PTSD.

We are Certified Prolonged Exposure Therapist & Cognitive Processing Therapy Providers at Sehat Psychology.

Our psychologists are keen to help. Please contact Sehat Psychology on (08) 7079 9529 or via our Online Contact Form for more information or to book an appointment.

Book Appointment
We Provide Telehealth
Appointments Australia Wide