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What is PTSD?

PTSD means experiencing or seeing a shocking or threatening event, and having memories of it that keep you busy. Examples of traumatic experiences are (threat with) physical violence, an accident, a fire, war situations and sexual abuse. It may happen that such an event will haunt you. This can really affect your daily life. It can be difficult to sleep, to relax, or to maintain healthy relationships. Physical symptoms may arise from PTSD, due to high stress levels and poor sleep. PTSD can encourage depressive symptoms, as well as anxiety symptoms, substance use and in severe cases even suicide. It can feel like you can never be rid of the memories of the trauma again.


Symptoms of PTSD are divided into three categories:

  • Reliving the traumatic event. For example, in nightmares, flashbacks or recurring thoughts.
  • Avoiding everything that reminds of the trauma. For example, avoid the place where it happened, or emotionally 'lock'. It can also be very difficult to talk about the subject.
  • Stress; a stressed and unsafe feeling, not being able to sleep, anger, scareand hyperalert.

The nature of the trauma (one-time or prolonged, recent or in youth, sexual or not) and the symptoms can vary greatly per person.

Therapy for PTSD

Therapy for PTSD is aimed at processing it happened, reducing or disappearing ptsd symptoms. In psychology, various methods of treatment have been well studied and effective in about two thirds of patients ¹.

Threshold to seek help

Because the memories of the trauma are often already perceived as annoying, there may be a threshold to seek help. What if the complaints get worse when the topic of conversation becomes? What if it doesn't work to talk about it? Is this the right time?


Timing plays a role in treating PTSD. It is inevitable in treatment that the trauma becomes the subject of conversation, and of emotional life. It's like cleaning up the attic: eventually it cleans up, but during the clean-up there will be more rubbish and dust first. So it is good to choose an opportune time to enter into trauma treatment. And for example, do not opt for this during a move, pregnancy or new job. Sometimes, however, the complaints can be so annoying that treatment is a priority.

Acupuncture in PTSD

Within acupuncture, various treatment methods have been developed for PTSD. Sometimes this involves ear-acupuncture, sometimes 'ordinary' acupuncture and sometimes as a client you also learn methods to beat acupuncture points at home with the fingers. Acupuncture has proved as effective in PTSD as psychotherapy ², ³, 7, 5, 6, 4.

PTSD is particularly my interest. With great love and pleasure I worked as a psychologist with traumatized clients, and the use of acupuncture in these complaints I experience as a great enrichment. I wrote my graduation thesis of the training as an acupuncturist on this subject and continue to delve into it. 

Acupuncture: peace and less talk

Clients with PTSD experience that acupuncture brings them a lot of peace. The overwrought nervous system is calmed down. It becomes possible to really exhale and relax. Sleep can greatly improve and other related physical complaints are addressed simultaneously. Furthermore, the acupuncture has the possibility to 'loosen' the trauma piece by little without having to talk about it much. For people who find talking difficult, acupuncture is often a good alternative.

The treatment

Treatment for PTSD will be a combination of a conversation about the symptoms and about physical and mental condition in general, and needle treatment (possibly supplemented with calming techniques to use at home). Because of my psychological background I am trained in assessing the severity of the symptoms and the desired treatment intensity. I know how sensitive this matter is and guard the peace. I have a lot of attention and respect for the client's limits. I can put and indicate the processing process in context. When the complaints are serious, I can partner with the treating psychologist, so that there is a wider safety net for the client. The general practitioner may also remain involved if the client gives permission to do so. In some serious cases, I will refer to a larger institution, because I estimate that a client needs more than I can offer in private practice.

Acupuncture to complement psychological treatment

Acupuncture can also be used to supplement treatment with a mental health or free psychologist. Acupuncture then contributes to more relaxation and rest, better sleep and to monitoring the energy level during treatment. Processing costs energy. The more rest and energy there is, the more likely success has ptsd treatment. This is often perceived by clients as a very meaningful supplement.


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1. Bradley, R., Greene, J., Russ, E., Dutra, L. & West, D.A., 2005. A multidimensional meta-analysis of psychotherapy for PTSD. American Journal of Psychiatry. 2005; 162:214-27.

2. Church, D., Geronilla, L., Dinter, I., 2009. Psychological symptom change in veterans after six sessions of EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques): An observational study. International. Journal of Healing and Caring. 2009;9(1).  

3. Church, D., Hawk, C., Brooks, A. et al., 2013. Psychological trauma symptom improvement in veterans using Emotional Freedom Techniques; A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Nervous Mental Disorders, 2013. 201(2):153-160.

4. Engel, C.C., Cordova, E.H., Benedek, D.M., Liu, X., Goertz, C., Freed, M.C., Crawford, C., Jonas, W.B. & Ursano, R.J., 2014. Randomized effectiveness trial of a letter course of acupuncture for post traumatic stress disorder. Med. Care, Dec. 2014; 52(12 Suppl. 5): S57-64

5. Hollifield, M., Warner, D. & Hammerschlag, R., 2007. Acupuncture for posttraumatic stress disorder – A randomized controlled pilot trial. Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease, June 2007.

6. Kim, Y.D., Heo, I., Shiun, B.C., Crawford, C., Kang, H.W. & Lim, J. H., 2013. Acupuncture for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials and Prospective Clinical Trials. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Vo. 2013, Article ID 615857.

7. Nemiro, A. & Papworth, S. Efficacy of two evidence-based therapies, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for the treatment of gender violence in the Congo: A randomized control trial. Energy psychology, 2015; 7(2):13-25.