Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Prolonged Exposure Therapy Works, Debriefing Does Not. (in Trauma's Shadow)

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Prolonged Exposure Therapy Works, Debriefing Does Not. (in Trauma's Shadow)

Article excerpt

PHILADELPHIA -- Several sessions of prolonged exposure therapy in the weeks after a traumatic event have been shown to accelerate the process of recovery, Edna B. Foa, Ph.D., said at the annual meeting of the Association for Advancement of Behavior Therapy

On the other hand, the usual one-shot approach, psychological debriefing, appears to do no good and may even retard recovery.

Over the last 20 years, it became customary and then all but mandatory to apply early intervention after disasters and other traumatic events in hopes of accelerating the resolution of trauma-associated symptoms. The procedure of choice became psychological debriefing, in which the subject is encouraged to talk about the trauma in narrative detail, recounting the facts and elaborating his or her thoughts and feelings during the event. Debriefing is typically provided in a single session, within 72 hours of the trauma, in an individual or group setting. "Unfortunately we became accustomed to using psychological debriefing with no research as to whether it is helpful or not," said Dr. Foa of University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

In recent years, studies have, in fact, shown the procedure to have no positive effect on posttraumatic stress symptoms. …

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