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Effective Treatments for PTSD: A Review of the Research

08 Feb

Researchers from Cardiff University in Wales performed a systematic review of RCTs (randomized, controlled trials) of various psychological treatments for PTSD. The study looked at trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy/exposure therapy (TFCBT); stress management (SM – this is where guided imagery would mostly fit); supportive therapy; non-directive counseling; psychodynamic therapy; hypnotherapy; group cognitive behavioural therapy; and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).

Thirty-three studies wound up qualifying for inclusion in the review. There was no significant difference between TFCBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and SM (stress management) – both did significantly better than wait-list controls and than the other therapies.  EMDR also did significantly better.


There was no significant difference between the other therapies and waitlist/usual care controls.  

The study concluded that there was evidence individual TFCBT, EMDR, stress management and group TFCBT are effective in the treatment of PTSD.  Other non-trauma focused psychological treatments did not reduce PTSD symptoms as significantly.

Citation:  Bisson J, Andrew M. Psychological treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 Jul 18; (3):CD003388. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award