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Psychosocial Treatments for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

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More than 25 controlled trials of CBT including prolonged exposure have demonstrated that this approach is highly effective in ameliorating PTSD symptoms and related psychiatric problems. Arising from an experimental background, cognitive-behavioral interventions typically have been subjected to rigorous testing and traditionally involve repeated assessments of target symptoms, comparison groups, and well-delineated and replicable procedures. CBT for PTSD involves a combination of education about the normal course of stress response, relaxation and anxiety management techniques, cognitive therapy to address pathogenic beliefs, imaginal and in vivo exposure to trauma-related stimuli, and relapse prevention. This method is predicated on facilitating fear extinction both through repeated exposure in the absence of real threat, leading to new learning that counters fear conditioning, and through cognitive and somatic management of response to reminders of the trauma.

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