How Can PTSD Worksheets Benefit Me?

Medically reviewed by Melissa Guarnaccia, LCSW
Updated April 15, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content Warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that could be triggering to the reader. Please see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (commonly referred to as PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder characterized by symptoms such as nightmares, intense anxiety, and intrusive thoughts following a traumatic event. PTSD can alter the brain and elicit intense reactions to stressors, making effective interventions important for reprograming your brain and reducing symptoms. 

Many websites provide downloadable worksheets, factsheets, and other educational materials to help survivors with PTSD. A combination of self-help resources, healthy lifestyle practices, medications (under the guidance of a physician), and psychotherapy can help many people reduce their symptoms. While PTSD worksheets are not a replacement for therapy, they can be a useful supplement.

PTSD can disrupt your daily life

What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a diagnosable disorder that is triggered by the experience of trauma. Typically, people living with PTSD experience some of the following symptoms

  • Recurrent intrusive thoughts about the traumatic event/s
  • Intense memories that feel as though the event is re-occurring in real time (often called “flashbacks”)
  • Nightmares
  • Distress when reminded of the trauma (such as when hearing a story related to the trauma) 
  • Avoiding things that remind you of the trauma
  • Thinking negatively about yourself or others 
  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness 
  • Difficulty remembering events that occurred during the trauma
  • Trouble maintaining relationships 
  • Feeling numb or distant 
  • Dissociative experiences 
  • Being startled or scared easily
  • Feeling on guard or hypervigilant
  • Addressing emotional symptoms with self-destructive behaviors (such as drinking excessively)
  • Difficulty sleeping, concentrating, or accomplishing tasks 
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Experiencing feelings of guilt, shame, and/or self-blame

Though 13 million adults in the United States are estimated to experience PTSD each year, the disorder is not well understood by the public. There are several common misconceptions about PTSD, including the following:

Misconception: Only soldiers can experience PTSD

Anyone can experience PTSD in response to trauma. In fact, it is estimated that 8% of American women, versus 4% of men, will have PTSD at some point in their life. Types of traumas that frequently lead to PTSD include (but are not limited to) sexual assault, abuse, serious accident or illness, traumatic childbirth experiences, severe bullying, war, death of a loved one, or experiencing a terrorist event such as a school shooting. According to the NHS, one-third of people exposed to serious trauma will develop PTSD.  

If you or a loved one is experiencing abuse, contact the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Support is available 24/7.

If you are experiencing trauma, support is available. Please see our Get Help Now page for more resources.

Misconception: PTSD develops immediately after experiencing trauma

The National Institute for Mental Health reports that symptoms of PTSD tend to begin within three months of a traumatic event, but they can develop months or years later. To meet diagnostic criteria for PTSD, symptoms must interfere with daily life and last for more than one month. 

Misconception: PTSD lasts forever

For some people, symptoms of PTSD resolve within six months or less. For others, PTSD symptoms may persist for months or years, particularly if left untreated. A medical practitioner or in-person mental health professional can evaluate you and provide you with a diagnosis. Based on their findings, they may recommend a combination of psychiatric medications, psychotherapy, support groups, and/or self-help resources.  

Misconception: PTSD isn’t real, it’s a sign of mental weakness

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a clinically diagnosable psychiatric disorder that many people experience after surviving a traumatic experience. PTSD alters the way the brain functions, making the condition very difficult to address without support and treatment.

Addressing PTSD

There are a variety of options available to help improve your symptoms and your ability to accomplish daily tasks. The options that work best for you may vary based on the severity of your symptoms. Below are some PTSD resources that you may want to consider: 

PTSD worksheets

Free therapy worksheets can provide guidance for self-acceptance and growth outside of therapy sessions. PTSD worksheets may include information about the disorder, along with a series of open-ended questions. Complete workbooks such as “Dealing with Trauma: A TF-CBT Workbook for Teens” address the symptoms that often accompany PTSD, while encouraging teenagers to identify and try using healthy coping mechanisms. Other PTSD self-help worksheets written by a licensed mental health counselor can be found at PsychPoint

Some worksheets are developed to address specific types of traumas. For example, if you or your child has experienced sexual assault, you may want to utilize the free information, handouts, and worksheets available from the University of Washington Harborview Medical Center. While worksheets can be helpful, they are not seen as a substitute for evidence-based therapy and/or medication

Join a support group

People living with PTSD often believe that no one else can understand their traumatic experience, a belief that can hold them back from engaging in their communities or opening up to their loved ones. This sense of isolation can make recovery even harder. One step towards greater social support can be joining a support group for people with PTSD. 


An in-person medical practitioner (such as your general practitioner or psychiatrist) may recommend a medication prescription. Antidepressants, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), are commonly used to treat PTSD and have extensive research supporting their efficacy. Other medications may be used to address symptoms of anxiety, sleep disturbances, or nightmares. 

While medications can be helpful for many people, they may have unwanted side effects. Your doctor may need to adjust your medication type(s) and dosage(s) several times to find the best pharmaceutical option for you. Do not start or stop the use of psychiatric medications without guidance from a medical doctor. 

PTSD can disrupt your daily life

Trauma-informed cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that is strongly recommended by the American Psychological Association (APA) to reduce symptoms of PTSD. During trauma-informed CBT sessions, therapists help clients modify negative thought patterns to improve emotions and behavior (this is called cognitive restructuring). Typically, therapists will also help clients by incorporating some elements of exposure therapy.

Individuals with PTSD may be more comfortable attending CBT sessions from home. One study found that internet-based CBT is an effective alternative to in-person CBT. In the study, therapists were able to successfully establish therapeutic relationships with their clients remotely, and sessions improved symptoms of PTSD for most participants. 

Many online therapists offer CBT that is specially designed for survivors of trauma. Online therapy providers like BetterHelp can match you with a therapist who specializes in treating PTSD. If you are experiencing PTSD symptoms that make it difficult to leave your home, you may consider online therapy for its flexibility of format. You can attend therapy sessions from anywhere you have a stable internet connection and smart device.  


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a diagnosable disorder that can develop in response to a traumatic event. Symptoms of PTSD typically include intrusive thoughts, guilt, sleep disturbance, and flashbacks. Anyone who experiences an intensely frightening or distressing event can develop the disorder. If you are seeking support for healing from trauma, there are many resources available, such as self-guided worksheets, community support groups, and psychotherapy. Online cognitive behavioral therapy for treating PTSD can be an effective alternative to in-person therapy.
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