Trauma & PTSD

Understanding Trauma

Sometimes in life we go through experiences that overwhelm our ability to cope. Experiences might involve actual or threatened death or serious injury, or witnessing harm to others, where we feel intense fear or helplessness. These might include things like car accidents, physical or sexual assault or abuse, workplace accidents, or natural disasters, for example. We refer to these at traumatic events.

About 4 out of 5 North Americans have experienced a traumatic event during their lifetime.

Fortunately, most people recover from a traumatic event. However, a small number of people go on to develop persistent psychological symptoms that cause them distress and interfere with their day-to-day functioning. About 10% of people who experience a traumatic event develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).


What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or “PTSD”?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (or “PTSD”) is a psychological condition in response to a traumatic experience. It can present in children, teens, adults, or seniors.

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Intrusive, distressing memories
  • “Flashbacks” – experiencing the trauma as if it is happening in the present)
  • Nightmares
  • Intense distress when faced with reminders of the trauma
  • Anxious avoidance of things that remind you of the trauma
  • Feeling “unreal”, or that you are out of your body or “in a movie”
  • Depression
  • Loss of interest in things
  • Anger
  • Feeling constantly “keyed up” or “on edge”
  • Difficulty relaxing
  • Insomnia
  • Trouble paying attention
  • Easily startled
trauma and ptsd

Natural Recovery is Likely

Fortunately, around half of those who develop PTSD will fully recover on their own within one to two years.

When Should I Seek Help?

If you or your family member (such as a child or elderly parent) are feeling overwhelmed and are having difficulty coping, or if you experience symptoms of PTSD for 6 months or longer, or if depression is also present, speak to your doctor and ask about seeing a psychologist. We can help.


Cognitive-behavioural therapy (or “CBT”) (including cognitive processing therapy or “CPT”)is a type of counselling that is effective in treating PTSD. CBT involves about 12-16 weekly sessions in which you learn about how your thoughts, physical symptoms, and behaviours interact in the case of PTSD. You learn skills like relaxation and “grounding” techniques to bring you back to the present.

Exposure therapy, can also help you overcome your anxious avoidance of reminders of the past event.

Cognitive processing therapy (“CPT”) is a specific form of CBT where you explore how trauma has impacted your way of being in various aspects of your life, including your sense of safety, trust, control, self-esteem, and intimacy. CPT teaches you a new way to handle upsetting thoughts about the trauma and new ways of thinking about your life since the trauma.

Counselling for PTSD is available to kids, teens, adults, and seniors.


Medication, such as anti-anxiety medication or anti-depressant medication, may help with anxiety itself, as well as related problems like depression or sleep difficulties. Talk to your doctor if you’d like to learn more about medication options.

Support groups

Support groups can also help. They are a place to share your own experiences and learn from others, and help you connect with people who understand what you’re going through. There may also be support groups for loved ones affected by PTSD.

Our Clinicians Treating Trauma & PTSD

Burlington Clinicians Treating Trauma & PTSD

Dr. Lesley Miller

Practice Director, Neuropsychologist & Clinical Psychologist - All Locations & Online

Dr. Carol-Anne Hendry

Psychologist (Children, Teens, Adults) - Burlington & Online

Dr. Narmeen Ammari

Psychologist & Neuropsychologist (Adults, Seniors) - Burlington & Online

Dr. Samantha Daniel

Psychologist (Adults) - Burlington & Online

Dr. Samantha Longman-Mills

Psychologist (Adults) - Online

Dr. Taylor Hatchard

Psychologist (Adults) - Burlington & Online

Dr. Lana Rappaport

Psychologist (Adults) - Online

Dr. Areeba Adnan

Psychologist & Neuropsychologist (Adults, Seniors) - Online

Cara Morison, M.A.

Psychologist (Adults, Couples) - Burlington & Online

Don Webers

Registered Psychotherapist (Adults) - Online

Andrea Brown, M.Sc.

Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying) (Adults) - Burlington & Online

St. Catharines Clinicians Treating Trauma & PTSD

Dr. Cheval Chez-Roy Birchwood

Psychologist (Adults) - St. Catharines & Online

Dr. Anita Hibbert

Psychologist (Adults) - St. Catharines & Online

Jennifer Edwards, M.Ed.

Registered Psychotherapist (Teens, Adults, Seniors) - St. Catharines & Online

Jeffrey Sica, M.Sc.

Registered Psychotherapist (Teens, Adults) - St. Catharines & Online

Jordan Van Hoffen, M.Ed.

Registered Psychotherapist (Adults) - St. Catharines & Online

Sheryl Johns, M.Ed.

Registered Psychotherapist (Teens, Adults, Seniors) - St. Catharines & Online

Whitney Ringstead, MACP

Registered Psychotherapist (Kids, Teens, Young Adults) - St. Catharines & Online

David Sider, MACP

Registered Psychotherapist (Kids 8+, Teens, Adults, Seniors, Couples, Families) Online

Lauren Kremble

Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying) (Teens, Adults) - St. Catharine’s

Additional Resources for Trauma & PTSD

national center for ptsd