PTSD flashbacks worksheet stimulus discrimination

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What is the theory behind this PTSD flashbacks worksheet  stimulus discrimination?

A distinct symptom of PTSD is the re-experience of the traumatic event through intrusive images, nightmares or flashbacks that are a cause of significant distress. This worksheet is based on a clinical intervention used in Cognitive therapy for PTSD (CT-PTSD) called  ‘stimulus dicrimination’. 

It helps clients with PTSD to identify the subtle cues that trigger their intrusive memories that are most often involuntary. The next step is to learn how to distinguish those cues from the memory of the actual traumatic event and the ones that have triggered the memory in the current safe context.

How will the worksheet help?

This worksheet helps clients to focus their attention on the present so that they can differentiate between the trigger cues in the current context and those that were present at the time of the traumatic event. The aim is to help them realise that cues in the present context are safe (NOW) and unrelated to those from the threatening traumatic memory (THEN).

How to use the worksheet?

This worksheet is to be used immediately or shortly after the traumatic memory was triggered. Instruct the client to write down the situation that triggered their memory then move on to highlighting the differences between the THEN and NOW. 

It would also help to instruct clients to use coping strategies such as breathing exercises to control their heightened emotional state following the trigger. 

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