For PTSD symptoms

What are trauma-focussed therapies?

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy and other trauma-focussed therapies are generally beneficial for patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They are also currently being investigated in patients with other diagnoses who have had exposure to traumatic events.

EMDR therapy involves identifying past events that are causing dysfunction, identifying current circumstances that elicit distress, and desensitising internal and external triggers. During EMDR therapy, patients attend to the emotionally disturbing material in brief sequential doses while simultaneously focusing on an external stimulus, usually therapist-directed lateral eye movements. The therapist may teach the patient a variety of imagery and stress reduction techniques to use during and between sessions. When patients report no distress related to the targeted memory, they are asked to focus on a preferred positive belief instead. Over the course of treatment, patients gain insight about their stressful situations, and the associated emotional distress reduces.

Other trauma-focussed therapies include prolonged exposure, which involves cognitive behavioral therapy to teach people to gradually face trauma-related memories, feelings and situations.

What is the evidence for trauma-focussed therapies?

Only one study was identified assessing patients with bipolar disorder, which reported improvements in trauma symptoms when compared to treatment as usual. However, this evidence is of low quality as the sample is very small (20 people).

May 2019

Last updated at: 4:41 am, 27th May 2019
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