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Treatment of acute posttraumatic stress disorder with brief cognitive behavioral therapy: a randomiz

22 Jun
Researchers from the University of Amsterdam evaluated the efficacy of brief cognitive behavioral therapy for patients with acute posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with 143 subjects within 3 mos of experiencing a traumatic event..
Researchers from the University of Amsterdam in Tafelbergweg evaluated the efficacy of brief cognitive behavioral therapy for patients with acute posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) resulting from various types of psychological trauma.

The authors randomly assigned 143 patients with acute PTSD, within 3 months after experiencing a traumatic incident, to either brief cognitive behavioral therapy (N=79) or a waiting list comparison group (N=64).

Cognitive behavioral therapy consisted of four weekly sessions consisting of education, relaxation exercises, imaginal exposure, in vivo exposure, and cognitive restructuring.

The main outcome measure was PTSD scoring measured by a structured interview; secondary outcomes were anxiety and depression measured by a questionnaire. Assessments took place before the intervention and 1 week and 4 months after the intervention.

Results revealed that symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, and depression decreased in both groups over time. One week after the intervention, the cognitive behavioral therapy group had significantly fewer symptoms of PTSD than the comparison group, but this difference was smaller and no longer significant 4 months after the intervention. Similar results were found for the anxiety and depression scores.

Subgroup analyses showed that cognitive behavioral therapy led to significantly lower PTSD scores at 4 months in patients who at baseline were found to have comorbid major depression; and in patients who were included within the first month after the traumatic incident, both at 1 week and at 4 months.

The study concludes that brief, early cognitive behavioral therapy accelerated recovery from symptoms of acute PTSD but did not influence long-term results. Brief early cognitive behavioral therapy showed enhanced efficacy in patients with baseline comorbid depression and patients who were included within 1 month after their traumatic experience.

Citation: Sijbrandij M, Olff M, Reitsma JB, Carlier IV, de Vries MH, Gersons BP. Treatment of acute posttraumatic stress disorder with brief cognitive behavioral therapy: a randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Psychiatry. 2007 Jan; 164 (1): pages 82-90. 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