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NET at Optimism

Narrative Exposure Therapy can help with problems such as:

Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

What is NET?

NET therapy fundamentally works on the premise that trauma creates an alarm response. The amygdala (an almond-shaped part of the brain that deals with emotional associations and responses) attaches negative, long-lasting links to the emotional, cognitive, sensory, and physiological experience. The person with PTSD may then suffer flashbacks and avoid anything that triggers that memory. They may suffer long term feelings of anger, grief, distrust, loneliness, confusion, low self-esteem, and shame. Their faith in others, especially caregivers will have been violated. This can lead to PTSD but also unhealthy coping strategies including addictions, compulsions, phobias and self-harm. NET works on the theory that by talking through traumatic events in chronological order, you can slowly and methodically repair negative associations and responses.

What is the theory behind NET?

The concept of narrative exposure therapy was developed by Maggie Schauer, Frank Neuner, and Thomas Elbert in the early 2000s. Their work has been backed up by field studies and can be found in the manual ‘Narrative Exposure Therapy: A Short-Term Treatment for Traumatic Stress Disorders’.

What are NET sessions like?

In NET, you work with a therapist to create a timeline of life events known as a 'life line', this will include positive experiences, represented by flowers, negative/difficult experiences, represented by stones and could also include experiences of grief and conflict. Once this has been created you will work through the life line, usually in chronological order. Your therapist will create a safe place to speak about each life event in detail, helping you to review and make sense of your experiences, evidence shows that in doing this the emotional charge attached to negative/difficult memories reduce.

How long with CBT last?

NET typically takes 8 – 16 sessions, each 60-90 minutes in length, but this can vary from person to person and some people attend up to 30 sessions. You will usually meet with your therapist weekly or fortnightly.

What will you do outside your NET  sessions?

NET can involve activities for you to do outside your sessions. This might include filling in worksheets, keeping a diary or practicing techniques and skills learnt in session. It can be helpful if you are able to commit your own time to complete the work over the course of treatment.

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