European Journal of Psychotraumatology (2015-08-01)

Psychotherapies for PTSD: what do they have in common?

  • Ulrich Schnyder,
  • Anke Ehlers,
  • Thomas Elbert,
  • Edna B. Foa,
  • Berthold P. R. Gersons,
  • Patricia A. Resick,
  • Francine Shapiro,
  • Marylène Cloitre

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 6, no. 0
pp. 1 – 10


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Over the past three decades, research and clinical practice related to the field of traumatic stress have developed tremendously. In parallel with the steady accumulation of basic knowledge, therapeutic approaches have been developed to treat people suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other trauma-related psychological problems. Today, a number of evidence-based treatments are available. They differ in various ways; however, they also have a number of commonalities. Given this situation, clinicians may wonder which treatment program to use, or more specifically, which treatment components are critical for a successful therapy. In this article, seven pioneers who have developed empirically supported psychotherapies for trauma-related disorders were asked to compose an essay of three parts: first, to provide a brief summary of the treatment they have developed; second, to identify three key interventions that are common and critical in treating PTSD; and third, to suggest important topics and future directions for research. The paper ends with a summary highlighting the identified commonalities (psychoeducation; emotion regulation and coping skills; imaginal exposure; cognitive processing, restructuring, and/or meaning making; emotions; and memory processes), pointing to future directions such as trying to better understand the underlying mechanisms of action, and developing treatments that are tailored to the needs of different patient groups.