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Psychosocial Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Edna B. Foa, PhD

Published: May 31, 2000

Article Abstract

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

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