Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

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Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is classified as an anxiety disorder that can develop after an individual has observed and/or experienced an extreme traumatic event that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury to one’s self or another (APA, 2000). An extreme traumatic event can include, but is not limited to, military combat, terrorist attacks, natural or manmade disasters, sexual assault, physical assault, robbery, and torture (APA, 2000). The type of traumatic event could influence the way in which medical and mental health care professionals assess, conceptualize, and subsequently treat the individuals with a PTSD diagnosis. For this reason, sexual …show more content…
The purpose of psychoeducation is to legitimize the traumatic reaction, to help the client develop a formulation of her or his symptoms, and to establish a justification for treatment (Harvey, Bryant, & Tarrier, 2003).
Prolonged Exposure and/or In Vivo Exposure
Prolonged exposure requires that the client repeatedly, in a systematic manner, relive the memories of the traumatic event over an extended period of time (Foa, Dancu, Hembree, Jaycox, Meadows, & Street, 1999; Foa & Rauch, 2004; Harvey, Bryant, & Tarrier, 2003). In prolonged exposure, the client is expected to (a) vividly call to mind the traumatic event, with as much detail as possible, (b) recount the memory of the traumatic event to the therapist in the present tense, and (c) have constant exposure to the memory until the distress decreases (McDonagh, McHugo, Sengupta, Demment, Schnurr, Friendman, Ford, Mueser, Fournier, & Descamps, 2005). The therapist’s role, in prolonged exposure, is to help the client identify “hot spots” or the most distressing aspect of the memory. The therapist and the client then develop a hierarchy of memories to address, from least to most distressing. These memories are addressed one at a time until habituation of anxiety to the memory occurs, which is determined by
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