Psychological therapies for chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adults

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Psychological therapies are more effective than waitlist or usual care in treating adults with chronic PTSD.

PTSD is a distressing condition that is often treated with psychological therapies. Trauma‐focused cognitive behavioural therapy (TFCBT) and eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) are types of psychological therapies used in the treatment of PTSD. TFCBT is a variant of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which includes a number of techniques to help a person overcome a traumatic event. TFCBT helps an individual come to terms with a trauma through exposure to memories of the event. EMDR is a psychological therapy, which aims to help a person reprocess their memories of a traumatic event. This review aims to assess the effects of psychological therapies for the treatment of adults with chronic PTSD from 70 studies (4761 participants). The studies showed evidence that individual TFCBT, EMDR and non‐TFCBT are equally effective immediately after treatment in the management of PTSD. There was some evidence that TFCBT and EMDR are superior to non‐TFCBT between one to four months following treatment, and also that individual TFCBT, EMDR and non‐TFCBT are more effective than other therapies. Due to low participant numbers and poor study designs, the overall quality of these studies is very low and so the findings of this review should be interpreted with caution. There is insufficient evidence to show whether or not psychological therapy is harmful.

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