Psychosocial Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder




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This article reviews empirically validated psychosocial treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and considers factors associated with successful therapy outcome. Most of the treatments whose efficacy was studied empirically fall within the broad category of cognitive-behavioral therapy. These include exposure therapy, anxiety management programs, and cognitive therapy. These therapy modalities have been developed to modify conditioned fear and erroneous cognitions that are thought to underlie PTSD. Exposure therapy has the most empirical support because it was found to be effective across different populations of trauma victims with PTSD. Combinations of therapies have also been used, and the value of these is discussed. In addition, this article presents recent evidence about the efficacy of eye movement and desensitization reprocessing. A growing body of evidence supports the use of psychosocial treatments for PTSD, but not all patients benefit. Future research should develop programs that increase the motivation of patients to take advantage of these efficacious treatments.

J Clin Psychiatry 2000;61(suppl 5):43-48