Post-traumatic stress disorder, commonly referred to as PTSD, is a disabling condition that can result from exposure to a traumatic event. Many people think of Vietnam War veterans when discussing PTSD, however many others also suffer from this emotionally painful condition. Sexual assault, physical assault, motor vehicle accidents, and natural catastrophes are other unfortunately common sources of traumatic exposure that can induce post-traumatic stress disorder. Individuals who are thought to be predisposed in some way could start experiencing intrusive memories and other forms of re-experiencing the trauma when exposed to these types of events. They start suffering from flashbacks, recurrent intrusive thoughts, nightmares, mood disturbances, anxiety, agitation, irritability, hostility, hypervigilance, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, and feelings of guilt. PTSD symptoms can cause a major decline in performance in school, at work, and in interpersonal relationships. The emotional distress caused by these symptoms notoriously trigger substance abuse, self-destructive behavior, and social isolation. The need for better forms of PTSD treatment is apparent, which lead to the development of the Delray Center Trauma Bloc program.
Q: What is the Trauma Bloc PTSD treatment program?
The Delray Center Trauma Bloc program was developed by Dr. Rodriguez and the Delray Center clinical team in 2016, in response to the growing need for better PTSD treatment. The Trauma Bloc system is a major modification and enhancement of Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR), which is a well-established treatment for PTSD. Each “Bloc” is a carefully planned and timed therapeutic sequence. A patient will usually undergo a series of 8-14 Trauma Bloc sessions over the course of a 16-24 week outpatient program. The first few weeks of the program emotionally and physically prepare the patient to engage in the Trauma Bloc sequences.
Q: What does a Trauma Bloc treatment session entail?
The Trauma Bloc sequence starts with an EMDR session. EMDR is an emotionally intense kind of therapy that is physiologically arousing. In the Trauma Bloc, the natural physiologic excitation is further accelerated after the EMDR session. This is done in a way to maximize the activation of the Amygdala, one of the parts of the brain implicated in PTSD and intentionally activated in Prolonged Exposure Therapy. The Amygdala is generally responsible for the expressing of emotion, which in the case of PTSD will predominantly be fear. The Amygdala hyper-excitation phase is then followed by a rapid physiologic deceleration phase, which helps cool off the Amygdala and promotes activation of the Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex (vmPFC). The Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex is a more advanced part of the brain involved in the processing of emotions and decision-making. Activation of the vmPFC is essential to processing emotional traumas in Prolonged Exposure Therapy. This vmPFC activation is enhanced by Trauma Bloc therapy. The net effect is a substantially improved response to EMDR and greater PTSD symptom resolution.
Q: What else can help reduce my PTSD symptoms?
PTSD symptom resolution is achieved by completion of the prescribed number of Trauma Blocs as well as incorporating effective coping skills and emotional processing tools such as DBT psychotherapy, psychopharmacology, group therapy, acupuncture, meditation, exercise therapy, and vitamin therapy. Treatment for PTSD can start with a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation.