Exposure therapy, EMDR and relaxation


Several psychosocial treatments appear to be effective in treating posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, little is known about the predictors of treatment outcome. It is possible that some variables predict poor outcome for some treatments but not for others. To investigate this issue, outcome predictors were examined for three 8-session treatments: Exposure therapy (entailing prolonged imaginal and in vivo exposure), relaxation training, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Sixty people with PTSD entered and 45 completed treatment. To our knowledge, ours was the first EMDR study to meet all the Foa and Meadows Gold Standards for methodologically sound outcome research. Treatments did not differ in attrition or perceived credibility. Predictors of treatment outcome in PTSD: While psychological treatments for PTSD have developed considerably in recent years, large variation in individual treatment response is apparent. This symposium integrates research from the USA, Canada, and Australia to examine the impact of personal characteristics, childhood abuse history, and treatment setting as predictors of response to cognitive behavioral interventions. 

PTSD treatment outcome predictors: Exposure therapy, EMDR and relaxation: Exposure tended to be most effective, and EMDR and relaxation did not differ in efficacy. Low patient ratings of treatment credibility (assessed in session 2) predicted treatment dropout, regardless of treatment type. Of the potential outcome predictors examined, severe reexperiencing symptoms (assessed prior to treatment) predicted poor outcome for relaxation training but not for the other therapies. The best predictor of treatment outcome was whether or not patients received exposure therapy.






Steven Taylor

Original Work Citation

Taylor, S. (2003, October-November). Exposure therapy, EMDR and relaxation. In PTSD treatment outcome predictors (M. Creamer, Chair). Symposium conducted at the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies 19th Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL



“Exposure therapy, EMDR and relaxation,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed October 20, 2020, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/18977.

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