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Psychosocial treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder.

15 Aug
Psychosocial treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder.
Barbara Rothbaum of Emory University School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry, reviews 45 studies for this meta-analysis of the efficacy of various psychosocial treatments for PTSD.

Her review was hampered by the fact that most studies are uncontrolled. The preponderance of controlled studies have been conducted on cognitive-behavioral treatments, and these show that techniques such as prolonged exposure therapy, stress inoculation training, and cognitive processing therapy are effective in reducing symptoms of PTSD.

Systematic desensitization has largely been abandoned in favor of pure exposure techniques. Relaxation and cognitive therapy are best viewed as components of treatments, rather than stand-alone treatments. The results from studies examining eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) generally support their efficacy, but there is some question about the role of eye movements (i.e., is it the eye movements that are the critical element).

According to Rothbaum’s analysis, there is no evidence indicating the superiority of programs that combine different cognitive-behavioral techniques. (Ed. note: this is counter to what I have been hearing from various investigators and clinicians.)

Citation: Rothbaum, B. Psychosocial treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder. Primary Psychiatry, v. 8, no. 10, pp. 62-66 (October 2001).
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