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Prolonged Exposure Therapy - Again I'm On About It...


hedgey

Question

I have been able to avoid going through Prolonged Exposure Therapy for a long time, but apparently my VA therapist is losing patience, or he's getting pressure from above. One good reason for the pressure is that according to him, after the 8-10 weeks of PET I would drop off his regular patient list and become an occasional follow-upper.

I'm terrified. Petrified. Makes me sick and panicky just to think about it. I cannot visualize how I'm supposed to do this 're-living' my stressor events for 90 minutes, then happily head home and be okay around my DH and family. Plus we have to record the sessions and I have to listen to them every day until the next session a week later.

My DH is having a rough time with his own PTSD, especially since his father died. How is he supposed to deal when I come apart at the seams?

Oh, if I have to be taken into care, if I really flip out and my therapist agrees I'm not safe to leave, I get to go to the in-patient mental health unit at the VAMC. 75 miles away. So DH would have me far away, have to drive to see me, etc.

But the therapist keeps telling me it works. Works really well. Even for MST (okay, in each case it was a recent event, less than two - three years ago...). He keeps promising me that I'll finally be able to leave my house without anxiety sky-high, that my PTSD symptoms will reduce...

He also promises that the VA will never, never, consider me cured or try to reduce my rating. (huh? why doesn't that sound true?). He said that most of his patients have been concerned about that, but that the VA acknowledges that PTSD is for always. This PET is just going to make my life better, and I guess so much better that I don't need weekly counseling anymore.

I feel frozen, paralyzed about this.

I haven't even gotten to the point of telling him what happened, the events, etc. What's he going to do, hypnotize me and get it out that way? He hasn't said that was part of it, but... if I haven't been able to verbalize it in regular therapy, what is he expecting?

Maybe I should have just put this in my blog instead of in the forum, but I'm hoping for help.

Please, anyone with MST, have you done PET? Did it work? I know I've asked this before, but I'm wringing my hands, dithering and fretting.

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Healthcare issues are YOUR decisions.

Everyone that is able to, needs to advocate for themselves.

I personally have made my decision several years back to NOT do PET.

I have been advised by the MH peeps - that it is OK as they do not feel

I am a good candidate for PET.

I get my do not kill pills from my female VAMC Psychiatrist -

I see her for about 30-45 minutes once every 3 months, just for a quick update and RX's.

I get my one on one therapy from my female Vet Center therapist (MST is her specialty)

and see her usually twice a month, if things are rough then I see her 3 X a month.

I am a firm believer - (with a little sugar added to it)

I decide my therapy, what I feel I will or can do, etc. . .

same thing with RX drugs.

Just adding my 20 bucks worth.

Good luck in YOUR decisions.

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Carlie, your strength always boosts me up and gives me courage. Thank you, so much!!

I told my therapist this week that I would rather work on just getting to where I can tell him what happened - which covers several years.

I don't think they (VA docs, even the MST certified ones) grasp the depth and complexity. It's like walking through a bog - the kind that looks like a regular field from a distance, but then you get to the edge and realize it's wet with little hillocks of grass. You can't tell until you're into it how deep the wet parts are, how unstable the little grassy bits are, how easily your foot will slip off and you'll be in water up to your knee... And you find yourself in the middle of it, keep going? Go back? Holler for help?

That's about when you realize that there are snapping turtles and water snakes in there with you...

But it looks like stable, solid ground from a distance, what's the problem?

I almost believe a therapist has to have walked through that same bog on their own for them to understand.

Ack. Just wanted to thanks, Carlie, not go rambling....

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Hedgey I definitely agree with what Carlie has suggested - Do what you personally feel is in your best interest and what you feel you can deal with at this point in time. Don't be afraid to say stop - I can't and/or I won't do this at this point in time because I do not personally feel I am ready. I went through some intensive sessions (not called PET at the time) for almost 2 hours every other day for weeks....then, after each and every session, I was sent back to train recruits as I was a DI at the time and the normal stressors that all DI's have from training recruits had made my coping mechanisms difficult for dealing with my previous sitiuation - these sessions only compounded things. I had no choice or at least did not feel like I had a choice in reference to what/when/where/how my treatment was conducted, as I was active duty at the time and rank kept rearing its ugly head and threats of being voided (voiding my DI MOS after almost of year of working as one). Had I been a civilian at the time - I would have never continued. Personally I felt and still feel that by having to relive the event - over and over- then have to immediately go back to training recruits was the most idiotic thing they could have done for both the recruits safety that I was training and for my own well-being - way to many emotions are brought forth to include anger,rage etc. I actually think it made things worse for me....in the short term and long term.

Some things may work for some people and for some MH problems.....but not for others. I had a bad feeling about it before we started.....I should have went with my instincts.

Wishing you the best with whatever you decide.....Hang in there

Edited by USMC5811
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I am starting a DBT group next week. They are suggesting I do PET or CPT after that and go to the male MST group. It's a lot but I want to stop being afraid of people and stop staying in my house all the time.

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