Psychotherapy For PTSD: Meaning and Types

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a highly severe and chronic mental health condition developing from traumatic life experiences. However, effective treatment options for mental disorders have been identified that have produced quality results. Psychotherapy for PTSD is one of the gold-standard treatment options. 

As per the guidelines for PTSD treatments released by the American Psychology Association (APA) in 2017, psychotherapy is a strongly suggested treatment for PTSD. According to Frontiers, it addresses psychotherapy is highly trauma-focused. This means it helps patients directly manage the feelings, thoughts, and emotions attached to the traumatic event.

There are several different types of psychotherapy for PTSD. Let’s dive deeper into how they work.

Types of Psychotherapy For PTSD

Types Of Psychotherapy For PTSD

1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy:

  • addresses the relationship between thoughts and behaviors,
  • targets problems and symptoms of PTSD, and
  • works on changing thoughts and behavior patterns.

Therapists treating patients with PTSD employ a lot of different strategies to help reduce symptoms and increase functioning. They might encourage patients to re-evaluate and re-think their thought patterns to address negative and problematic emotions. The treatment is used to alter the understanding and perception of the traumatic life experience in the patient’s life. 

Read more: Top Anger Management Classes Explained

2. Prolonged Exposure Therapy 

Prolonged exposure therapy is another type of widely used psychotherapy for PTSD. It is considered a form of behavioral treatment method for PTSD. This is because exposure therapy works toward addressing the behaviors the patient has developed due to a traumatic experience.

For instance, a person who has been in a car accident might develop a habit of driving altogether to avoid car accidents in the future. This type of learned behavior coming from a tendency to avoid the traumatic experience in the future might make PTSD symptoms persist for longer. 

Exposure therapy works toward helping the patient overcome avoidance behavior and eventually increase their quality of life. It allows them to confront their fears in order to help them overcome those fully.

3. Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)

Cognitive processing therapy helps alleviate the symptoms of PTSD. It has been found to be extremely successful in reducing symptoms occurring from PTSD due to:

  • childhood trauma,
  • rape,
  • combat,
  • abuse, and
  • natural disasters.

The treatment using CPT begins with psychoeducation. It means providing education regarding the condition and the thoughts and emotions related to it. This helps build a better understanding of the patient and what they are going through. They are then asked to write an impact statement detailing their perception of why the traumatic event occurred and how it has impacted them.

Following this, a more formal part of the therapy starts with a focus on processing the trauma. The patient writes the most challenging aspects of the traumatic experience and reads them in the sessions to break the chain of negative emotions.

Read more: Best Online Therapy Platforms


PTSD is a challenging stress disorder that requires proper treatment and care. Psychotherapy for PTSD can help relieve the severity of symptoms. Additionally, more awareness regarding the condition and treatment options related to it will help people find the right help whenever required.

Now that you know about PTSD, let’s help you understand another common stress disorder. To know more about acute stress disorder, click here.

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1 Comment

  1. What a great post, so educational! It is so important to seek out appropriate treatment that will effectively treat a diagnosis. I love that the conversation is opening up and stigma is starting to dissipate when it comes to therapy!

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