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Intriguing Finding: Social Support Needed for Exposure Tx but Not Relaxation

16 Aug

Researchers from the University of London’s Institute of Psychiatry explored which conditions predicted successful outcomes for 77 adults with chronic PTSD who were randomly assigned to either exposure therapy and/or cognitive restructuring therapy, as compared with relaxation therapy.
The CAPS (Clinician Administered Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Scale) was used to measure outcomes.

More social support on the Significant Others Scale significantly predicted better outcomes on the CAPS, even after controlling for the effects of the treatment group and of pre-treatment severity.  A particularly important finding was that social support was a significant predictor of outcome for subjects receiving cognitive restructuring and (or) exposure therapy, but did not impact subjects in the relaxation condition.

The study concludes that better social support is associated with significantly greater improvement in PTSD symptom reduction for those undergoing cognitive restructuring and (or) exposure therapy, but is not needed to further potentiate relaxation therapy.
Citation:  Thrasher S, Power M, Morant N, Marks I, Dalgleish T. Social support moderates outcome in a randomized controlled trial of exposure therapy and (or) cognitive restructuring for chronic posttraumatic stress disorder. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. 2010 Mar; 55 (3): pages 187-90.

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