Brain Facts

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Psychological Therapies for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Several types of psychological treatments have been designed specifically for treating patients with PTSD. These approaches include a special type of CBT known as trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TFCBT), and a psychotherapy treatment called eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).

With TFCBT, patients are taught stress management skills. The therapist helps the patient develop a narrative (verbal, written, or artistic) about the traumatic event. Patients may be exposed to reminders about the trauma and are taught how to cope with future reminders. Through the process, the patient learns how to reprocess their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

With EMDR, the patient focuses on remembering the traumatic experience while visually following the rhythmic movement of the therapist’s fingers. The patient recounts to the therapist what memories have been provoked during the exercise. EMDR may help patients recall details and sensations that they had blocked out. Through this breakthrough, patients learn how to regain emotional control.

Researchers are investigating other forms of treatment for PTSD including yoga, acupuncture, and animal-assisted therapy.

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