Many forms of psychotherapy have been advocated for trauma-related problems such as PTSD. Basic counseling for PTSD includes education about the condition and provision of safety and support. Cognitive therapy shows good results, and group therapy may be helpful in reducing isolation and social stigma. The psychotherapy programs with the strongest demonstrated efficacy are all cognitive behavioral programs and include variants of exposure therapy, stress inoculation training (SIT), variants of cognitive therapy (CT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and combinations of these procedures. Exposure involves assisting trauma survivors to therapeutically confront distressing trauma-related memories and reminders in order to facilitate habituation and successful emotional processing of the trauma memory. Most exposure therapy programs include both imaginal confrontation with the traumatic memories and real-life exposure to trauma reminders.

Critical incident stress management:

Early intervention after a traumatic incident, known as Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) is often used to reduce traumatic effects of an incident, and potentially prevent a full-blown occurrence of PTSD. However recent studies regarding CISM seem to indicate iatrogenic effects.Six studies have formally looked at the effect of CISM, four finding that although patients and providers thought it was helpful, there was no benefit for preventing PTSD. Two other studies have indicated that CISM actually made things worse. Some benefit was found from being connected early to cognitive behavioral therapy, or for some medications such as propranolol. Effects of all these prevention strategies was modest.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing:

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is specifically targetted as a treatment for PTSD. Research on EMDR is largely supported by those with the copyright for EMDR and third-party studies of its effectiveness are lacking, but a meta-analytic comparison of EMDR and cognitive behavioral therapy found both protocols indistinguishable in terms of effectiveness in treating PTSD.

Medication:

Propranolol, a beta blocker which appears to inhibit the formation of traumatic memories by blocking adrenaline's effects on the amygdala, has been used in an attempt to reduce the impact of traumatic events.

Combination therapies:

PTSD is commonly treated using a combination of psychotherapy (cognitive-behavioral therapy, group therapy, and exposure therapy are popular) and medications such as antidepressants (i.e. SSRI's such as fluoxetine and sertraline, SNRI's such as venlafaxine, and NaSSA's such as mirtazapine) or atypical antipsychotic drugs (such as quetiapine and olanzapine). Recently the anticonvulsant lamotrigine has been reported to be useful in treating some people with PTSD.The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a clinical protocol that combines the drug MDMA with talk therapy sessions.

Other techniques:

Attachment- and relationship-based treatments are also often used. In these cases, the treatment of complex trauma often requires a multi-modal approach.

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Author's Bio: 

This definition is part of a series that covers the topic of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder / PTSD. The Official Guide to Post-Taumatic Stress Disorder / PTSD is Jef Gazley.

Jef Gazley, M.S., LMFT, DCC has practiced psychotherapy for over thirty-three years and is the owner operator of www.asktheinternettherapist.com since 1998 and www.hypnosistapes4health.com. He has been practicing energy psychology since 1975. He is trained and certified in both traditional and Ericksonian hypnosis. He is a member in good standing in the American Society for Clinical Hypnosis, National Board For Certified Clinical Hypnotherapists, The International Society For Hypnosis, The American Psychotherapy And Medical Hypnosis Association, and The International Registry Of Professional Hypnotherapists.

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