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Yoga used to help post-traumatic stress disorder patients

Yoga used to help post-traumatic stress disorder patients

January 24
22:28 2013

Emily Bentley / Staff Writer

Faculty members at the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth have started a yoga program to combat the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.

After learning about a trauma-sensitive yoga study in Boston, Mass., the faculty started a weekly class for women at the health center.

Studies show that people who experience or witness distressing or disturbing events are likely to exhibit symptoms of PTSD, an anxiety disorder that comes from encountering unfortunate situations.

“Trauma is brought on by a significant experience that happens in one’s life, various situations can cause it such as physical assaults or attacks, but it can also be emotional,” said Counseling Psychologist Dr. Rhonda M. Dalrymple. “At the Counseling Center we see a vast number of students who come in for different traumatic experiences.”

The program takes a different approach on how patients are helped. Rather than telling victims what to do, instructors allow them to choose their own yoga moves.

This helps patients cope with stress and prevents them from reliving unsettling experiences.

“Trauma-sensitive yoga can help heal areas of the brain that were impacted by the trauma, such as the limbic system,” Clinic Supervisor for the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Rebecca Meriwether said in a press release. “And thus individuals can better regulate and tolerate their emotions, which aids the healing process.”

In order to help with the disorder, victims are recommended to seek therapy to help with the symptoms that very often end up interfering with their lives.

The most common form of therapy for this disorder is repeated exposure therapy, where patients work with therapists to condition their brain to suppress the trauma.

However, some research points to the fact that with repeated exposure to the trauma comes a higher likelihood of substance abuse, as the patient struggles to deal with the trauma.

“The good thing about yoga is it helps teach you to push away negative thoughts,” said pre-psychology sophomore Elisha Haynes. “During yoga sessions the instructor would teach us exercises that were designed to help us clear our minds and let go of built-up tension. It’s kind of like making peace with yourself for whatever happened.”

Dalrymple said regardless of what form of therapy patients experience, dealing with traumatic instances takes time and effort on both the therapists and the patient’s part.

“With therapy people learn how to be powerful again, they are able to learn more about themselves and ways to cope. It takes a lot of strength from the client,” Dalrymple said. “Counseling is a partnership and my job is to walk with them on the journey.”

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