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Most effective PTSD therapies are not being widely used, researchers find
Date:4/11/2013

Post-traumatic stress disorder affects nearly 8 million adults in any given year, federal statistics show. Fortunately, clinical research has identified certain psychological interventions that effectively ameliorate the symptoms of PTSD. But most people struggling with PTSD don't receive those treatments, according to a new report published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest.

In the report, internationally renowned trauma expert Edna Foa of the University of Pennsylvania and a team of distinguished psychological scientists review studies describing interventions that can effectively treat PTSD.

Foa, an Association for Psychological Science fellow, pioneered the use of prolonged exposure therapy (PE), in which patients approach in both imaginary and real-life settings situations, places, and people they have been avoiding. The repeated exposure to the perceived threat disconfirms individuals' expectations of experiencing harm and, over time, leads to a reduction in their fear. Foa authored the new report with Seth Gillihan of Haverford College in Pennsylvania and Richard Bryant of the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

Over years of testing, PE and other forms of cognitive behavioral therapy have proved highly effective in addressing the distress and dysfunctional problems that trauma victims experience. However, the majority of mental health professionals do not use such evidence-based treatments (EBTs) when working with patients suffering from PTSD, the researchers write.

Many clinicians believe that good psychotherapy should be individualized and should focus on the underlying causes of one's problems and symptoms. But studies show scant evidence that psychodynamic therapy which focuses on such issues as difficult childhood relationship with parents effectively eases PTSD symptoms, according to the report.

Foa and her colleagues say their findings are important given th
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Contact: Anna Mikulak
amikulak@psychologicalscience.org
202-293-9300
Association for Psychological Science
Source:Eurekalert

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