One of the most crucial aspects of any good, quality treatment happens before your therapy actually starts, and that means beginning with a thorough assessment. This type of assessment is key for just about any medical or psychological issue and is especially true for PTSD.
Let’s say you go to the Emergency Room because your arm hurts. What does your medical team do first? They don’t immediately put a cast on you. They don’t immediately throw you into surgery. No, they will begin with asking you what happened, what’s going on now, and start ruling in/out potential diagnoses. The recommended treatment is then determined by the results of these assessments.
The same is true for determining what treatment may be best for you when dealing with a mental health issue. Exposure to past trauma can affect people in many different ways. Most people experience a normal trauma reaction and will naturally recover. Some may not recover and develop PTSD. Other times these symptoms could develop into a depressive disorder, affecting your mood and interest in activities. In every case, a therapist needs to have a good understanding of your past experiences and your current symptoms to get a clear picture of what is going on. This is important because your diagnosis (or lack thereof) will determine your best treatment options.
Back to my arm example: if they do an x-ray and find your arm is broken, they are not going to want to remove your gall bladder to fix it! No! They will then talk about treatment options for your broken arm.
How I Work With You
When I meet with someone for the first time, I spend some time getting to know a little about your history and the trauma you may have been exposed to. We then spend the bulk of the time going symptom by symptom of PTSD using a Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for DSM-5, or the CAPS-5, which is the gold standard in PTSD assessment. (Read more about PTSD diagnosis here). We will also do a more general mental health evaluation because sometimes other things may be going on as well, such as depression, an anxiety disorder, or substance abuse problems, to name a few. Each of these are important pieces to take into consideration before jumping into treatment. This initial assessment helps me understand how your symptoms are currently impacting your life. We will then talk about the results of the assessment and possible treatment options. My goal is to help you make an informed decision about your mental health care.
Without a good assessment, it’s impossible to know which treatment you may benefit most from and why.
I hope this helps! Please contact me if you want to be assessed for possible PTSD and talk about treatment options. I’m happy to meet with you and help you determine the most appropriate next steps.