Psychologist & Trauma Therapist

Dr Lara Lagutina, London SE16, UK



What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?


By definition, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (or PTSD) develops as a reaction to a traumatic event. Official diagnostic criteria (according to DSM-IV) specify, that such an event has to involve "actual or threatened death or serious injury or a threat to the physical integrity of self and others". As a result, the sufferer would have experienced an intense fear, horror or helplessness.

Following such a traumatic event, the traumatised person may left with intense and difficult symptoms which involve involuntary re-experiencing of the trauma (such as intrusive memories, flashbacks or nightmares), avoidance of any reminders of the trauma, including any associated internal triggers (this may also involve numbing, amnesia and other symptoms of dissociation) and signs of increased anxiety and arousal (such as irritability, insomnia and hyper-arousal). To qualify for the diagnosis, these symptoms should last for at least one month. Understandably, PTSD can be an extremely challenging condition, which can seriously disrupt one's normal daily functioning.

Typical traumatic experiences include such events as accidents, natural disasters, physical and sexual abuse, major operations and medical procedures (or an experience of a life-threatening illness), war and combat.

How can psychotherapy help with PTSD?


There are several therapeutic approaches which demonstrated effectiveness in the treatment of PTSD. Among them is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Somatic Experiencing is another approach which has initially been developed to treat traumatised people. The focus of psychological therapies in the treatment of PTSD is on helping people re-integrate overwhelming dissociated experiences. This means that the traumatic event would resume its rightful place as a past memory among other life experiences and would no longer produce distressing symptoms upon recollection, thus enabling the individual to reconnect with their internal resources and return to their daily life.

  For information about the practical aspects of therapy, such as length of sessions please see FAQ.


Traumatic stress and PTSD