The guideline recommends interventions for the treatment of adults with PTSD. Recommendations are based on a systematic review of the evidence, a weighing of the benefits and harms of interventions, consideration of what is known about patient values and preferences, and applicability.

Strongly Recommended

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy 

Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors; targets current problems and symptoms; and focuses on changing patterns of behaviors, thoughts, and feelings that lead to difficulties in functioning. 

Cognitive Processing Therapy 

Cognitive processing therapy is a specific type of cognitive behavioral therapy that helps patients learn how to modify and challenge unhelpful beliefs related to the trauma. 

Cognitive Therapy 

Derived from cognitive behavioral therapy, cognitive therapy entails modifying the pessimistic evaluations and memories of trauma, which are presumed to then interrupt the corresponding behavioral and/or thought patterns that have been interfering in the person’s day to day life. 

Prolonged Exposure 

Prolonged exposure is a specific type of cognitive behavioral therapy that teaches individuals to gradually approach trauma-related memories, feelings and situations. By facing what has been avoided, a person presumably learns that the memories and trauma related cues are not dangerous and do not need to be avoided.

Conditionally Recommended

Brief Eclectic Psychotherapy 

Brief eclectic psychotherapy incorporates elements found in CBT for PTSD with a psychodynamic approach that focuses on changing the emotions of shame and guilt and emphasizes the relationship between the patient and therapist. 

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) 

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 the trauma memories.

Narrative Exposure Therapy

Treatment, often provided to small groups of refugees, that helps individuals establish a life narrative to contextualize traumatic experiences and develop a cohesive autobiographical story. 

Medications 

Four medications received a conditional recommendation for use in the treatment of PTSD: sertraline, paroxetine, fluoxetine and venlafaxine.

Note: This web page is for informational and educational purposes. It does not render individual professional advice or endorse any particular treatment. We recommend a consultation with a mental health professional for an accurate diagnosis and discussion of various treatment options. When you meet with a professional, be sure to work together to establish clear treatment goals and to monitor progress toward those goals. Feel free to print information from this website and take it with you to discuss your treatment plan with your therapist. Even treatments that have scientific support will not work for everyone, and carefully monitoring your progress will help you and your therapist decide when it is time to try a different approach.