Learning chain analysis can be quite important for anyone with PTSD. It allows you to understand the function of a particular behavior by uncovering all of the factors that led up to that behavior. Doing this will not only help you greatly, but it will only take about 15-20 minutes of your time and it will help you to be in tune with yourself.
1. The first thing we need to do is identify whatever behavior it is that is impacting your life. For example: self harm, binge eating, and binge drinking.
2. Try to think about what you were doing before you engaged in that behavior: where were you, what were you doing, what was going on around you? You want to identify any situations or events that trigger the behavior you have issues with.
3. Pinpoint what thoughts or feelings came up with whatever event you just experienced. How did you view your reaction to the situation? Did you engage in unhealthy thought patterns such as looking at a situation as either black or white with only two possible outcomes, or, expecting the worst to happen without considering any other outcomes that are more likely to happen.
4. Be honest with yourself and try to identify any and all emotions you had as a result of that experience. Anger, guilt, shame, sadness, fear, anything you can pinpoint.
5. Focus on your body, what were your physiological reactions to the situation? Did you have muscle tension, shortness of breath, increased heart rate, startled “jump”, nausea? Think about any reactions your body had to the situation.
6. This is a very important part, what did your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations in the body make you want to do? Did you have the overwhelming feeling to want to do something to make it all stop or find a way to escape? Did you feel the urge to engage in your problem behavior? You need to list off what your thoughts, emotions, and physical feelings made you want to do. Be honest with yourself.
7. Lastly, figure out and identify how you felt after indulging in your problem behavior. List all of the sensations and feelings you felt, good or bad, list them all. These consequences, how did they make you feel? Were you ashamed or disappointed? Did you feel better? Really listen to yourself.
Chain Analysis should be done as soon as possible after you engage in whatever problem behavior you have identified. It is also possible that you may be more susceptible to this type of behavior when other factors get involved, for example: if you haven’t been eating or sleeping well, or if you are under a lot of stress at work or at home. The most important thing to do upon completion of your chain analysis is to then figure out coping strategies to deal with your problem behavior at each stage. Once you figure out the function of your problem behavior you need to break the chain of behavior by using healthier coping strategies instead of negative ones such as your problem behavior. Essentially you are replacing one behavior with another behavior which is much healthier for you. Continue to persevere through your fight against PTSD, you will come out on top and when you look back at all the hard work you did it will bring satisfaction to you, the effort is well worth the reward. Keep strong my brothers and sisters, keep strong.