Have you recently been in a car accident and fear getting back on the road?
Are you experiencing severe anxiety and panic attacks since the accident?
Have you been bothered by insomnia, nightmares and/or flashbacks to the accident when awake?
Is your fear of driving again getting in the way of your life?
In the United States, millions of car accidents occur every year. Being involved in one such incident can lead to a spectrum of negative feelings. It would be completely understandable for you to feel shocked, nervous, angry, guilty, afraid, or even have trouble believing it actually happened.
If you have been in an accident, chances are you have gone through some or all of the feelings described above. Usually, with time, these overwhelming emotions subside and go away after the accident.
However, in many cases, these feelings of fear and anxiety can persist and get stronger with time. Anxiety about driving, nightmares, or troubles falling asleep, ongoing memories of the accident, etc. can indicate that what you're feeling is not normal, and these can be signs of PTSD.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a stress reaction in which you have trouble coping and recovering from a traumatic incident. PTSD is extremely common following car accidents. It can become a troublesome condition that can interfere with your day to day life.
Fortunately, there are a number of effective treatments that you can use to overcome your trauma.
Applied Behavior Analysis and Exposure therapy for PTSD
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a highly effective and recognized course of treatment for treating people who have PTSD resulting from car accidents.
Traditional talk therapy focuses on targeting the thoughts and feelings that motivate a person's behaviors. In talk therapy, you examine the course of events that lead you to your current problem or way of thinking. Having a place to express your feelings without judgement can do wonders in helping difficult feelings dissipate. In addition, the therapist will also provide you with a list of skills and coping tools that can help you work through your fears in between sessions.
Although talk therapy can be extremely helpful, it doesn't help you to actually face the fear of getting back in the car, driving, driving past the site of the accident, and facing these fears is essential to getting over the symptoms of PTSD.
Unlike talk therapy, ABA focuses exclusively and directly on problem behaviors and helps you to consistently face your fears without panic until symptoms get better.
While both talk therapy and ABA have lots of similarities, ABA is focused on factors that are currently causing the problem instead of extensively looking at the background.
You do not have to unfold all of your past experiences to get to the roots of the current problem you're facing. You do not talk about your deep emotions. Instead, you focus on the issue at hand.
It is a very straight-forward yet robust approach. Because of this direct and time-effective method, the majority of people find ABA better, faster and less invasive for treating their PTSD.
Your therapist may also implement exposure therapy to manage your problematic fears.
In cases of PTSD, when people experience anxiety and fear due to traumatic memory, they try their best to avoid thinking about it or doing activities that trigger that memory. Avoiding these feelings might work for the short-term, but in the long run, they instead give more power to the fear.
In exposure therapy, you voluntarily and gradually expose yourself (with the therapist's support and guidance) to situations that cause you distress. This is done under the supervision of a licensed therapist.
The therapist guides the patient on how to face their fears and develop a sense of control over their panic responses.
For example, in cases of car accidents, your therapist will use different techniques such as visualizations, exposure to real-life objects, and incidents that induce panic in you. They will help you practice relaxation techniques, question distorted or negative thoughts, and talk back to them.
With prolonged exposure and the therapist's guidance on how to manage fears, your fearful emotions slowly start to lose their power. You learn to tailor your response in a healthy manner to cope with memories and triggers of your trauma.
It is a gradual process that is incredibly effective for alleviating the fears and panics of patients with PTSD.
How ABA helps people deal with PTSD
Here's a general roadmap for an Applied Behavior Analysis course:
- The therapist explains how ABA will work with your specific problem.
- You will then work with the therapist to identify the specific sources (or triggers) of your psychological distress.
- She will explain the primary treatment strategies, including replacing negative behaviors with positive rewards, and graphing your behaviors so you can directly see your progress and improvement.
- She will then help you develop specific treatment goals (such as being able to drive the same route as your accident without panic).
- She will then assign homework on how to face your fears consistently
- Together you will establish ways to measure improvements and changes
- You will both use sessions to troubleshoot and learn new skills to cope with your negative behaviors.
- Finally you will review treatment and put relapse prevention techniques in place once your symptoms are better.
Applied behavior analysts help their clients engage in active behaviors to accomplish their goals.
Because crucial symptoms of PTSD include avoidance, behavior analysts encourage individuals to assess their environments and become aware of trauma-related signals and their own emotional responses.
Specific activities and behaviors are implemented to target a person's avoidance issues.
With practice, an individual will replace undesirable behaviors with desirable ones.
Often in cases of PTSD, people pull away from activities or behaviors they used to enjoy.
For example, someone that has undergone a car accident won't find driving as enjoyable and safe as they once did. This can keep you from accepting invites from friends, and going on other outings you once enjoyed, like going out to eat or shopping, even getting to class.
Such a withdrawal can make PTSD worse and often leads to depression.
Applied Behavior Analysts help individuals with PTSD become active again in their life. This can be done by restarting previous activities or finding new meaningful activities.
This makes Applied Behavioral Analysis and Exposure therapy ideal approaches as they provide clear directions, focus on only the significant concerns, and give fast and effective results for dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder involving a car accident or any other traumatic event.
The Body Image Counseling Center offers both ABA and exposure therapy. Not only that, but you can do the sessions remotely by video. This is a great help because the therapist can actually be in the car with you while you are doing your homework to offer reassurance and guidance.
Additionally, car insurance often pays the entire cost of this type of therapy because it is directly related to your accident. With the help of your attorney, we will submit claims for you and you won't need to pay a dime to get help and relief. For a free 15 minute consultation to confidentially discuss your specific situation and how we can help, just fill out this form and we will be in touch today!