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Internet-based treatment for PTSD reduces distress and facilitates the development of a strong thera

27 Jul
Researchers from the Treatment Center for Torture Victims in Berlin, Germany studied the impact of an internet-based therapy (which they call Interapy) for people suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in a German speaking population..
Researchers from the Treatment Center for Torture Victims in Berlin, Germany studied the impact of an internet-based therapy (which they call Interapy) for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in a German speaking population. They also looked at the quality of the online therapeutic relationship and its relevance for enhancing treatment effects.

Ninety-six patients with posttraumatic stress symptoms were randomly allocated to either ten sessions of Internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) conducted over a 5-week period or a waiting list control group. Severity of PTSD syptoms were assessed at baseline as the primary outcome. Secondarily, evaluations were made on depression, anxiety, dissociation and physical health. Follow-up assessments were conducted at the end of treatment and 3 months after treatment.

From baseline to post-treatment assessment, PTSD severity and other symptoms were significantly improved for the treatment group (intent-to-treat group x time interaction effect size d = 1.40). Additionally, patients in the treatment condition showed significantly greater reduction of depression and anxiety as compared to the wait list condition. These effects were sustained during the 3-months follow-up period.

High ratings of the therapeutic alliance and low drop-out rates indicated that a positive and stable therapeutic relationship could be established online. There was significant improvement in the online working alliance over the course of treatment, and this high quality relationship correlated with positive treatment outcomes.

The researchers concluded that the online intervention proved to be a viable treatment alternative for PTSD, with large effect sizes and sustained treatment effects. It also showed that a stable and positive online therapeutic relationship can be established through the Internet.



Citation: Knaevelsrud C, Maercker A. Internet-based treatment for PTSD reduces distress and facilitates the development of a strong therapeutic alliance: a randomized controlled clinical trial. BMC Psychiatry. 2007 April 19;7:13. 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