Evidence-Based Treatments for PTSD

PTSD Treatments


Cognitive Processing Therapy

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is a cognitive behavioral treatment for PTSD ranging between 8-15 sessions, and can be conducted in individual or group treatment formats. CPT has been chosen by the state of Texas as a first-line treatment for PTSD given the substantial evidence for its effectiveness in treating PTSD. CPT has been shown to be effective with multiple types of trauma, including combat trauma and sexual trauma and in a variety of treatment settings, including VA and community clinics (Monson, Schnurr, Resick, Friedman, Young-Xu, & Stevens, 2006; Resick & Schnicke, 1993; Resick et al., 2016).


Prolonged exposure

Prolonged Exposure (PE) is a time-limited, individual, cognitive-behavioral therapy for PTSD. Treatment ranges in duration from 8-15 sessions and is conducted in individual sessions. Prolonged Exposure (PE) therapy has been proven to be one of the most effective treatments for PTSD, with the largest empirical data obtained over the past 20 years. Its efficacy has been demonstrated with multiple populations, including survivors of female sexual assault, physical assault, and childhood sexual abuse, and in various treatment settings such as academic institutions, community mental health centers, and VA clinics (Foa et al., 1999, 2005; Resick, Nishith, Weaver, Astin, & Feuer, 2002; Rothbaum, Astin, & Marsteller, 2005; Schnurr et al., 2007). 

Both CPT and PE are endorsed by the U.S. Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, as well as the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies, as a best practice for the treatment of PTSD.  

Treatment gains from CPT and PE have been demonstrated to continue well after treatment delivery. Resick, et al (2012) found in an intention- to-treat sample who had received PE or CPT, only 20% continued to meet diagnostic criteria for PTSD five to 10 years later.