Psychosocial treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder


How efficacious are psychosocial treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? This review will examine the literature on psychosocial interventions for PTSD. Information about the efficacy of traditional interventions in PTSD is quite limited as most studies of psychodynamic psychotherapy, hypnosis, and interpersonal process therapies are uncontrolled. Overall, the most controlled studies have been conducted on cognitive-behavioral treatments. These studies demonstrate that techniques such as prolonged exposure, stress inoculation training, and cognitive processing therapy are effective in reducing symptoms of PTSD. Systematic desensitization had 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 support it in general but some question the role of eye movements. Contrary to clinical intuition, there is no evidence indicating the superiority of programs that combine difference cognitive-behavioral techniques. Impressive advances in treating posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have been made in the past 15 years especially with respect to pharmacotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This review offers a summary of the literature on psychosocial interventions for PTSD. It begins with a brief review of traditional therapies for PTSD and then examines the larger literature on the efficacy of CBTs for PTSD.






Barbara Rothbaum

Original Work Citation

Rothbaum, B. (2001). Psychosocial treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder. The Economics of Neuroscience: Ten, 3(10), 59-63



“Psychosocial treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed September 24, 2021,

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