Video about Gita Ward helping an ex-soldier with PTSD. Please see full article here. “Gita gave a damn. My life was saved. My life was spared. ‘Thank you,’ is very small in words, but the meaning in my world is vast.”
Most of us have or will experience some type of trauma in our lives. You do not need a PTSD diagnosis to be affected by your trauma. With therapy we can file away our trauma and not have it impact us in our daily lives. At times our traumatic experiences can impact how we think, feel and behave.
I specialize in trauma and anxiety. I would love to work with you on identifying how the trauma is affecting you today and how to move forward from the trauma. See below for more information on PTSD and helpful therapies for trauma.
What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an illness where a traumatic event occurs and symptoms of trauma continue to occur and persist after one month of the incident. Sometimes symptoms can show up years after a traumatic event. Commonly, people associate PTSD with war veterans, but PTSD can occur to anyone who has experienced a trauma such as work place accident, near death experience, car accident, natural disasters, sexual abuse, rape, etc…
Symptoms of PTSD:
Intrusive memories such as: Flashbacks, Nightmares, Re-current and distressing memories of the trauma
Avoiding people, places or things that remind you of the trauma and/or avoiding discussing the trauma
Lack of interest in activities
Difficulties with relationships
Overwhelming feelings of guilt and/or shame
Irritable, angry outbursts
Hypervigilant for danger
Treatment for PTSD
Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE) is one of the leading treatments for PTSD. PE is based on cognitive behavioural therapy that helps to gradually look at the memories and people/places/things that you have been avoiding. It is a systematic approach to confront the avoidance of thoughts, memories, feelings, people/places/things. By confronting what you avoid you are able to see your PTSD symptoms decrease.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is another leading treatment for trauma and PTSD. EMDR is an integrative approach that includes mind, emotions and body. This type of therapy does not include a lot of talk during therapy and can help decrease the intensity of traumatic memories. EMDR can also be used for anxiety, pain management, panic, phobias, depression and complicated grief.
Video and Article about Gita Ward and a Previous Client
Former soldier Dene Graskie says he has spent the last few years fighting “a different war” — this one with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “It’s a lot worse when (the war) is inside your own head and it’s with yourself,” he says. Graskie is grateful he had Gita Ward, an Alberta Health Services social worker with a huge reservoir of toughness and compassion, battling alongside him. Their story is the subject of a new Because You Cared video from Alberta Health Services. “There’s Gita; she’s a girl with a big stick. When I say, ‘girl with a big stick,’ I mean she doesn’t back down,” Graskie says. “So you’re accountable to somebody in your life for the first time when it comes to PTSD.” Graskie grew up in South Africa and joined its military at 17, dealing with the turbulence that rocked the country for more than a decade. He tried to put the past behind him when he and his son moved to Canada in 2005 but, despite living in a peaceful country, he was not at peace himself. “(I had) serious bouts of feeling sad over the slightest thing, sometimes for no reason. But real sadness that would linger and hold,” says the 52-year-old Calgary steelworker. He began distancing himself from his wife Donna and son Terrence, now 24. The fear of losing his family was enough to push Graskie into seeking help from his family doctor, who referred him to Ward at the South Health Campus. “He was very isolated,” recalls Ward. “He had lost his job. He would avoid bridges, he would avoid walking down certain streets, he would avoid crowds.” According to MyHealth.Alberta, PTSD is a mental health condition brought on by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. Its symptoms include changes in behaviour, including isolation, relationship and work problems, depression and panic attacks. Most treatments for PTSD involve counselling and medication. And although Graskie knew he needed counselling, it was not an easy process. “It’s very difficult answering very, very personal questions to somebody you don’t know,” he says. “Things you put away for decades that you’ll never speak about again for the rest of your life. Now you must bring them out to the light.” Nor was the process easy for Ward. “When I was hearing Dene’s traumatic stories, on the inside, it was awful,” she says. “But I knew that Dene had to feel confident that I could hear these stories. So it was really important for me to try to regulate myself, keep myself calm and take care of myself after the session.” Graskie’s recovery involved facing his fears. “Part of his homework was he was going to have to put himself in situations that made him feel very uncomfortable,” says Ward, saying she would accompany Graskie to the grocery store and urge him to speak with strangers. “I was horrified,” says Graskie. “I would greet people and ask just mundane questions; 99 per cent of people are pleasant and have no idea why you asked them a question.” Graskie and Ward held their last session this spring after two years of counselling. He’s mending his relationships with his family, he’s working again, and he’s able to be around people without being overcome by fear. “It’s been a different fight. A different war,” Graskie says of his battle with PTSD. He’s grateful to the woman who helped him win it. “Gita gave a damn. My life was saved. My life was spared. ‘Thank you,’ is very small in words, but the meaning in my world is vast.”
Contact Gita Ward for an appointment to learn how to decrease your PTSD symptoms or trauma related symptoms. I return all phone calls and emails within 24-48 hours.