There are several trauma-specific and evidence-based treatments. Following an assessment, a clinician will recommended the best treatment to address the trauma and associated symptoms. The following are some treatments for adults:
Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT; Resick, Chard, Monson, 2008) is an evidence-based treatment for adults with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). CPT utilizes a cognitive behavioral therapy approach to PTSD.
CPT focuses on the connections between thoughts, feelings, behavior, and bodily sensations. It teaches one how to evaluate and change the upsetting thoughts related to their trauma. By changing thoughts, the patient can change how he or she feels.
This model has been researched in numerous randomized clinical trials and is endorsed by the U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense and the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies as a best practice for the treatment of PTSD. Research has shown CPT to be effective in reducing PTSD symptoms related to a variety of traumatic events, including child abuse, combat, rape, and natural disasters. The treatment typically lasts 12 sessions.
Prolonged Exposure Therapy for PTSD (PE; Foa & Rothbaum, 1998) is an evidence-based treatment for adults with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Exposure is an intervention strategy commonly used in cognitive behavioral therapy to help individuals confront fears. Prolonged exposure is a specific type of cognitive behavioral therapy that teaches individuals to gradually approach trauma-related memories, feelings, and situations. Most people want to avoid anything that reminds them of the trauma they experienced, but doing that reinforces their fear. By facing what has been avoided, a person can decrease symptoms of PTSD by actively learning that their memories and cues are not dangerous and do not need to be avoided.
This model has been researched in numerous randomized clinical trials and is endorsed by the U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense as a best practice for the treatment of PTSD. The treatment typically lasts 8–15 sessions.
Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR; Shapiro, 2001) is an evidence-based treatment for adults with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
EMDR is a structured therapy that encourages the patient to briefly focus on the trauma memory while simultaneously experiencing bilateral stimulation (typically eye movements), which is associated with a reduction in the vividness and emotion associated with these memories.
This model has been researched with randomized clinical trials and is endorsed by the U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense as a best practice for the treatment of PTSD. EMDR is an individual therapy typically delivered 1–2 times per week for a total of 6–12 sessions, although some people benefit from fewer sessions.
Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET; Schauer, Neuner, Elbert, 2011) is an evidence-based treatment for adults with PTSD and complex trauma.
Narrative Exposure Therapy builds on the theory of the dual representation of traumatic memories (Elbert & Schauer, 2002). This treatment helps individuals establish a coherent life narrative in which to contextualize traumatic experiences. With the guidance of the therapist, a patient establishes a chronological narrative of his or her life, concentrating mainly on their traumatic experiences, but also incorporates some positive events. It is believed that this contextualizes the network of cognitive, affective, and sensory memories of a patient’s trauma. By expressing the narrative, the individual fills in details of fragmentary memories and develops a coherent autobiographical story. In so doing, the memory of a traumatic episode is refined and understood.
This treatment can be delivered in either group or induvial modality and typically lasts 4–10 sessions.
Seeking Safety (Najavits, 2002) is a present-focused, coping skills therapy to help adults attain safety from co-occurring trauma and substance abuse.
This treatment is presented in either a group or individual format. Seeking Safety consists of 25 topics such as Safety, Asking for Help, Setting Boundaries in Relationships, Healthy Relationships, and Coping with Triggers.