Treatments and approaches to PTSD

Treatments and approaches to PTSD

There have been developed many methods to treat trauma-survivors suffering with PTSD. Lots of the randomized controlled trials of psychotherapy published have examined interventions considered to be components of cognitive-behavioral therapy CBT. Also often described are therapeutic approaches and techniques overlapping across psychotherapy. Some conclude that it is possible to group approaches according to objective effect (studies) in:

– Exposure-based CBT – Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) has been shown to be the an effective type of therapeutic treatment. CBT can help the patient/survivor to recognize and change inaccurate thoughts about himself and his future. Exposure therapy is the very good technique for recovery, it involves overcoming the patients anxieties by facing them in a controlled and safe environment. The survivor relive his fears all at once (flooding) or step-by-step (desensitization) in order to overcome them. Although this may seem frightening at first, this treatment is safe and works quickly.

– EMDR – EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (Francine Shapiro). It is a psychological method for treating emotional difficulties that are caused by disturbing life experiences, ranging from traumatic events which could be anything from a road traffic accident to an upsetting childhood event or a war/conflict/disaster- situation. For many clients, EMDR provides more rapid relief from emotional distress than conventional psychotherapies. EMDR brings together elements from well-established clinical theoretical methods including psychodynamic, cognitive and behavioral therapies. EMDR uses the bilateral stimulation (for exemple by left/right eye movement, or tapping left/right side of the body) which repeatedly activates the opposite sides of the brain. This helps the neurophysiological system to free itself of blockages and reconnect itself.

– Other psychotherapies – Some other psychotherapies have been published (reference: guideline-watch from 2009, APA) since 2004, but the utility/generalizability of conclusions are limited (methodological issues). Some approaches are more body-orientated and are seen to have success (f.e. sensimotor psychotherapy/P.Ogden, focus on the effect of trauma also on body and brain). Otherwise to mention here cognitive restructuring, psychodynamic psychotherapy, some other narrative therapies.

Psychological therapies for chronic post‐traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adults
J Bisson et al. The Cochrane Library 2013
This is an article in “The Cochrane Library”, where the author reviews lots of trials of all psychological treatments considered useful by The Cochrane Collaboration. Target group: clinicians/professionals. 

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: National Clinical Practice Guideline 
The Royal College of Psychiatrists & The British Psychological Society 2015
This is the complete PTSD-guideline of the “National Institute for Clinical Excellence” / NICE. Great overview, considering all of the importend topics from symptoms, treatment (also regarding children), intervention, recommendations. –

Practice guidelines for the treatment of patients with ASD and PTSD 
American Psychiatric Association APA, march 2009
A great overview of current approach and treatment, kind of clinical standard. This represents a so called “guideline-watch”, a supplement to get the original guideline (from 2004) up-to-date. Target group: clinicians

Expert Consensus Guideline Series: Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, Vol 60 1999
This is a supplement to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, where information about PTSD, recommended approaches and therapy suggestions are collected. Target group: clinicians/professionals. It gives an good overview, which is unfortunately kind of limited because it`s edited in 1999, and some of the newer therapies (as EMDR) are`nt mentioned yet, as well as recommendation concerning medication can be partially outdated.

Helping Children and Adolescents Cope with Violence and Disasters: What Rescue Workers Can Do
National Institute of Mental Health, NIMH 2010
Useful booklet (20 p.)where the target group are Rescue Workers (police, fire, other first responders). Overview of the topic with description of symptoms, and how to cope (and talk) with young survivors.

Pharmacotherapy for PTSD
DJ Stein, JC Ipser, S Seedat, The Cochrane Library  2009
A review in The Cochrane Library, to assess the effects of medication on PTSD, by comparing trials.