PTSD Treatment Options

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Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (TFCBT) is a general term which refers to individually delivered psychological treatments for adults that mainly use trauma-focused cognitive, behavioural or cognitive-behavioural techniques. These treatments include cognitive processing and exposure therapies, and/ or skills training components. Treatment emphasis relates to addressing various aspects of narrative traumatic memories, rather than current life problems resulting from PTSD. Allied Health Options
Cognitive Processing Therapy

Cognitive processing therapy (CPT) was developed as a treatment specific for rape victims with PTSD. It is an exposure and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)-based application designed to reduce PTSD symptoms and to challenge unhelpful thoughts that can prevent recovery from traumatic experiences. It consists of 12 sessions that can be classed according to four core phases: psycho-education, exposure, CBT techniques and closure.

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Exposure Therapy Exposure therapy is a form of trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy which is used for a variety of conditions including PTSD. During sessions, the therapist encourages the client to talk about the traumatic event and to re-experience the associated reactions and emotions. The goal is to reduce PTSD symptoms by confronting the person with the traumatic memories and helping lessen the emotional response. Allied Health Options
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a relatively new method of therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) where the client is asked to focus on a traumatic or disturbing image, thought, emotion and a bodily sensation whilst receiving bilateral stimulation most commonly in the form of eye movements. Allied Health Options
Cognitive Therapy Cognitive therapy aims to identify and correct dysfunctional thinking patterns that can lead to negative feelings and behaviour. The goal is to replace such thinking with a more appropriate view. This in turn, leads to more fulfilling and productive behaviour. Allied Health Options
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) Antidepressants Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitor (SSRIs) are a class of medications used in the treatment of depression, anxiety disorders and some other conditions. SSRIs are commonly prescribed to assist patients with PTSD symptoms. Medical Options
Adrenergic-inhibiting medications This is a large group of drugs also known as beta blockers, beta-adrenergic blocking agents, beta-adrenergic antagonists, beta antagonists, alpha-adrenergic blocking agents, alpha blockers, alpha-adrenergic antagonists and alpha antagonists. Adrenergic-inhibiting drugs have been widely used for conditions such as hypertension and cardiac disease. Some evidence is emerging regarding the use of these drugs in PTSD patients Medical Options
Brief Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Brief psychodynamic psychotherapy supports the traumatised individual to confront the specific event and circumstances that follow and what they mean for his/her life and well-being. In doing so, the therapist works to help the individual re-establish a sense of purpose and meaning in life and hope for the future, in spite of the pain and loss experienced as a result of the trauma. Allied Health Options
Group Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Group cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) refers to a therapy delivered in a group setting, which may use either trauma focused or non-trauma focused CBT techniques. Non-trauma focused group CBT mainly uses techniques which focus on the present. Trauma-focused group CBT primarily uses cognitive, behavioural and cognitive-behavioural techniques which have some focus on the trauma. Techniques may include various exposure therapies, flooding, and imagery rehearsal

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Hypnotherapy Hypnotherapy is a form of treatment that sends the client into a hypnotic state. Hypnosis is a natural altered state of consciousness or awareness where the mind is relaxed and focused. Hypnotherapy may involve a range of different strategies where the overall goal is to bring the patient in contact with the reality of the traumatic event and then focus on the appropriate suggestions made by the therapist. Hypnotherapy as described here aims to re-program patterns of behaviour within the mind, enabling irrational fears, negative thoughts and suppressed emotions to be overcome. Allied Health Options
Imagery Rehearsal Imagery rehearsal is a cognitive behavioural technique commonly used to treat post traumatic nightmares. It involves story line alteration of the nightmare in the waking state, followed by rehearsal of the new set of images. Allied Health Options
Interapy (Internet-Based Therapy) Interapy is based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) principles and involves delivery of therapy over the internet rather than face-to-face. Online therapy is based on written communication and behavioural writing assignments which are overseen by therapists who individually guide the client through the program. Three treatment phases over several weeks are tailored to clients' specific needs. Allied Health Options
Meditation Meditation is a self directed practice for relaxing the body and calming the mind. Most meditative techniques have come to the West from Eastern religious practices, particularly India, China, and Japan, but can be found in all cultures of the world. Until recently, the primary purpose of meditation has been religious, although its health benefits have long been recognized. It is now being further explored as a way of reducing stress on both mind and body. Life Style Options
Stress Inoculation Training (SIT) Stress Inoculation Training (SIT) is a form of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which is used to reduce anxiety. It involves three phases of treatment. The first is a conceptualisation phase which involves psychological testing, interviewing and self-monitoring. This phase aims to allow the client to identify and understand the thoughts underlying their anxiety. The second phase is a skill acquisition and rehearsal phase, which involves teaching skills which can be used to address these thoughts and thereby reduce anxiety. These skills involve mainly thought processes but also include emotional skills and relaxation. The third and final stage involves the application and enhancement of these skills. Allied Health Options
Stress Management Stress Management (SM) is a set of techniques used to help an individual cope more effectively with difficult situations in order to stimulate relaxation and improve coping skills. SM may include any psychological treatment delivered individually that predominantly use non-trauma focused cognitive, behavioural or cognitive-behavioural techniques such as relaxation exercises, role playing, guided self-talk, assertiveness training, cognitive restructuring, thought stopping, time management, and use of social support. Allied Health Options
Psychological Debriefing/Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Psychological debriefing (PD) is an individual or group intervention which typically consists of a single session where participants are encouraged to give a full narrative account of a traumatic situation that includes facts, thoughts and feelings. PD involves exposure to a traumatic incident through internal imagery within a short time after the event. Allied Health Options
Acupressure Acupressure is a form of touch therapy that utilizes the principles of acupuncture and Chinese medicine. In acupressure, the same points on the body are used as in acupuncture, but are stimulated with finger, hand, and elbow pressure or with various devices. Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Acupuncture Acupuncture is a technique of inserting and manipulating fine needles into specific points on the body for therapeutic purposes. According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), acupuncture points lie along meridians along which qi, the vital energy, flows. The practitioner may also stimulate the acupuncture points using other methods, including moxibustion, cupping, laser therapy, electro-stimulation and massage, in order to re-establish the flow of qi. Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Antipsychotic Medications Antipsychotic medications are a large class of psycho-active drugs used to treat psychotic illness and some other conditions. The first generation of antipsychotics, known as typical antipsychotics, has been in use since the 1950s. Of the newer second generation drugs, known as atypical antipsychotics, some have been trialed for the treatment of some symptoms in PTSD patients which were resistant to other therapy. Medical Options
Benzodiazepines Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs which have been used for many years in the treatment of symptoms including anxiety, insomnia, agitation, seizures, muscle spasms, as well as alcohol withdrawal. They can also be used before certain medical procedures in order to induce sedation and amnesia for the procedure. These medications have been used for PTSD patients. There are several benzodiazepines available which each have a slightly different chemical makeup and effects. Medical Options
Case Management Case management is a strategy used in several areas of health care and social welfare to support individuals with complex needs. Case management is a collaborative process of assessment, planning, facilitation and advocacy for interventions and services to meet an individual's needs and is usually delivered by a professional case manager working as part of a larger organisation. Allied Health Options
Craniosacral Therapy Craniosacral therapy (CST) is a method of complementary and alternative medicine used by physical therapists, massage therapists, naturopaths, chiropractors and osteopaths. A craniosacral therapy session involves the therapist placing their hands on the patient, which is thought to tune the therapist into the so called craniosacral system. By gently working with the spine, skull and its cranial sutures, diaphragms, and fascia the restrictions of nerve passages are said to be eased. In addition it is thought the movement of cerebral spinal fluid through the spinal cord can be optimized, and misaligned bones are said to be restored to their proper position. Complementary and Alternative Therapies 
Electroconvulsive Therapy Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), also known as electroshock, is a controversial psychiatric treatment in which seizures are electrically induced in anesthetized patients for therapeutic effect. It is recommended that electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is used only to achieve rapid and short-term improvement of severe symptoms after an adequate trial of other treatment options has proven ineffective and/or when the condition is considered to be potentially life-threatening. It is often targeted to individuals with such conditions as severe depressive illness, disturbance of motor behavior or a prolonged or severe manic episode. Medical Options
Emotional Freedom Techniques Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) was created in the mid 1990s as a simplified version of a technique known as thought field therapy (TFT). It relies on tapping on various energy meridians in the upper body and hands, while imagining the feared stimulus. It is claimed that this procedure realigns the body’s ‘control system for the disturbing emotions.’ The technique is reportedly used to treat psychological problems including phobias, anxiety, trauma, loss, addictive urges, obsessions, compulsions, and a wide variety of other problems. Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Exercise Exercise is the activity of exerting your muscles in various ways to improve or maintain physical fitness. Exercise for PTSD can include flexibility, aerobic and strength training, tai chi and yoga. This can be done individually, one-on-one with a personal trainer or within a group. Exercise typically has effects on the cardiovascular, musculoskeletal and neurological systems of our body. Life Style Options
Family support Family support is a term used to encompass the relationship between the individual with PTSD and their family. The family can either positively or negatively impact on PTSD symptoms and many experts believe that the support provided by family can be an important part of PTSD recovery. This support may include empathetic listening, providing emotional support through difficult times and providing more practical assistance. It is not uncommon for individuals with PTSD to report problems with family relationships. Professional assistance to improve this may have benefits for both the family and the PTSD sufferer. Allied Health Options
Massage Therapeutic massage is the holistic application of touch to affect the systems of the body including the muscular, skeletal, digestive, elimination, respiratory, circulatory, lymphatic, endocrine, emotional, mental and nervous systems. It involves manipulation of the soft tissues of the body with the hands for therapeutic, healing, and relaxing purposes. Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Mental Health Services Mental Health Services differ across Australia but generally consist of public or private services provided in hospital or within community settings. Services may be organised by geographical region or under areas of specialty care. Mental health services range from emergency response to assistance with longer term management of conditions such as PTSD. Allied Health Options
Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MOAIs) Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI) are a class of powerful antidepressant drugs occasionally prescribed for the treatment of depression. MAOIs have usually been reserved as a second line of treatment in depression when other classes of antidepressant drugs have been tried unsuccessfully. MOAIs were amongst the first drugs used for PTSD patients and have been increasingly replaced by SSRIs and other newer drugs which are thought to have fewer side effects. There are several MOAIs available which have a slightly different chemical makeup and effects. Medical Options
Mood Stabiliser and Anticonvulsant Medications Mood stabilizers, sometimes called antikindling agents, are psycho-active medications usually prescribed to treat mood conditions such as bipolar disorder. Many mood stabilizers also act as anticonvulsants. Some experts suggest that these medications may also be useful for the treatment of certain PTSD symptoms. Medical Options
Narrative Exposure Therapy

Narrative exposure therapy (NET) is a form of trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy developed to meet the needs of traumatised survivors of war and torture.

NET combines elements of two trauma-focused PTSD therapies:

  • exposure therapy where the person is encouraged to repeatedly talk about the traumatic event and re-experience the associated emotions
  • testimony therapy where the person constructs a narration about their life from birth up to the present, with a focus on detailed reporting of the traumatic experiences of war and torture.
Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Osteopathy Osteopathy is a system of therapy founded in the 19th century based on the concept that the body can formulate its own remedies against diseases when the body is in a normal structural relationship, has a normal environment and enjoys good nutrition. Osteopathy is particularly concerned with maintaining correct relationships between bones, muscles, and connective tissues. The practice of osteopathy often includes chiropractic-like adjustments of skeletal structures. Medical Options
Other Antidepressant Medications There are several types of drugs which fall under the broad banner of ‘antidepressants’ but are not part of the SSRIs, tricyclics, MAOIs or adrenergic groups. These other drugs are sometimes called ‘novel’ antidepressants. Some evidence is emerging for the use of these novel antidepressants in PTSD patients. Allied Health Options
Physiotherapy/Physical Therapy Physiotherapy/physical therapy (PT) has its origins in ancient history involving massage and forms of manual therapy in China around 2500 BC. Typically physiotherapists consult for the management of medical problems or other health-related conditions that cause pain, and that limit locomotion or the performance of functional activities. Physiotherapists are also involved in various health conditions through prevention, restoration of function and through fitness and wellness programs to maximise healthy, active lifestyles. Allied Health Options
Psycho-education Psycho-education refers to the education offered to people who live with a psychological disturbance caused by various conditions. Psycho-education has been used for individuals with PTSD. A goal of psycho-education is for the individual to understand and be better able to deal with their PTSD. Sessions may provide information on the causes and effects of PTSD as well as strategies for managing symptoms and improving quality of life. Allied Health Options
Rehabilitation Rehabilitation is a general term which encompasses a variety of approaches aimed at restoring or improving physical, psychological and/or social well-being. Rehabilitation may be delivered in in-patient or community settings. For individuals with PTSD, rehabilitation may include the cognitive behavioural therapies or other strategies discussed elsewhere in this document. The use of physical exercise-based rehabilitation programs for PTSD will be discussed in this section. Rehabilitation should always be used in conjunction with other treatments for PTSD. Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Reiki Reiki is a natural form of healing therapy. It is applied through non-invasive gentle touch. This form of therapy aims to increase energy levels and promote relaxation and wellbeing. The underlying philosophy of reiki is that if a person’s ‘life force energy’ is low, they are more likely to be unwell or stressed. If it is high, they are more capable of being happy and feeling well. Medical Options
Repeated Transcranial Magnetic Simulation Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive method to excite neurons in the brain. A coil of wire, encased in plastic, is held to the head. The coil is energized by a rapid discharge of a large capacitor, a rapidly changing current flows, producing a magnetic field which passes unimpeded through the skin and skull, inducing an oppositely directed current in specific areas of the brain. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) can produce longer lasting changes. Allied Health Options
Self Care/ Self Help Impact of a stressful or a traumatic event can affect people at all levels of involvement, with many different feelings. However, many trauma experts believe that there are strong mechanisms that contribute to natural recovery from traumatic events. It is thought that by maintaining positive coping and avoiding negative coping strategies, natural recovery might be facilitated. Allied Health Options
Socioenvironmental Therapy Socioenvironmental therapy refers to a form of treatment where emphasis is placed on the physical and social environment to promote interpersonal relationships. This in turn can be influential in reducing behavioural disturbances of patients. Socio-environmental conflict, expressed as emotions, can be a powerful influence on rehabilitation outcomes. Allied Health Options
Spinal Mobilisations and Manipulations Mobilisations are gentle, controlled movements of the spinal joints. They differ from manipulation in that they are of slower speed and used with less force. The aim is often to increase the movement of stiff joints and aims to relieve the associated discomfort and pain. They are used by physiotherapists to treat joints that have become stiff from lack of movement, tight muscles, and with stress. Life Style Options
Supported Housing Supported housing is typically a model of service in which the person diagnosed with PTSD is provided immediate access to independent housing that is fully integrated into the community, along with ongoing support. This model was an improvement on older models which used a graduated sequence of housing options. The downfall of the older models was that many diagnosed with PTSD did not progress to independent housing, instead remaining caught in an ongoing cycle. Allied Health Options
Supportive Counselling Supportive Counselling is a term which encompasses a variety of psycho-social approaches. Counselling is usually a one-on-one engagement between a trained counselor and a client, in which the counselor may lead the client through conversations which focus on various issues including emotional, social, interpersonal, health-related, educational and vocational concerns. Counselling sessions aim to help people improve their well-being, alleviate distress, resolve crises, and increase their ability to live more highly functioning lives. Life Style Options
Tai Chi Tai Chi is a powerful but gentle ancient Chinese exercise and healing art and considered as a gentle form of martial arts. It has been practiced in China for many centuries for good health and longevity. It consists of slow flowing movements which exercise and relax the mind and body. Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Tapas Acupressure Technique Tapas Acupressure Technique (TAT) is used to clear negative emotions and past traumas. It involves a series of steps that encourage the patient to vocalize the origins of their problem and ask for forgiveness and in essence releasing the emotions associated with the trauma. Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Therapeutic Touch Therapeutic touch (TT) is a non invasive method of healing that is derived from an ancient technique of laying hands on a patient. In TT, the practitioner alters the patient's energy field through an energy transfer that moves from the hands of the practitioner to the patient. Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Thought Field Therapy This technique is reportedly used to treat psychological problems including phobias, anxiety, trauma, loss, addictive urges, obsessions, compulsions, and a wide variety of other problems. Originally the technique was called the ‘5-minute Phobia Cure’ and was sold via television advertising. It relies on specialized tapping on various energy meridians in the upper body and hands in a specific order, called algorithms, while the patient imagines the traumatic event. Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Traumatic Incident Reduction Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR) is a systematic desensitization procedure for reducing or eliminating the negative impact of a traumatic experience by uncovering and resolving repressed memories related to the trauma. Medical Options
Tricyclic Antidepressants Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) are a class of antidepressant drugs first used in the 1950s. For many years TCAs were the first choice for pharmacological treatment of depression, and were among the first drugs used for PTSD patients. They are used for a variety of other conditions including neuropathic pain and bed wetting. TCAs have been increasingly replaced by SSRIs and other newer drugs which are thought to have fewer side effects. Allied Health Options
Vocational Rehabilitation Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) is related to improving employment opportunities by training individuals to attain skills, resources, attitudes, and expectations needed to compete in the interview process to secure and retain employment. Life Style Options
Yoga Yoga originated in India over 2000 years ago. Traditionally, yoga is a method joining the individual self with the divine, universal spirit, or cosmic consciousness. On the physical level yoga postures, called asanas, are designed to tone, strengthen, and align the body. These postures are thought to make the spine more flexible and promote increased blood flow to all the organs, glands, and tissues, thereby keeping all the bodily systems healthy. On a mental level, yoga uses breathing techniques, pranayama, meditation, dyana, to quiet, clarify, and discipline the mind. Life Style Options
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Rating System

These treatments are useful. They are supported by scientific evidence, but the evidence is not as strong.
These treatments are promising and may be useful. They have some evidence to support them, but more evidence is needed to be sure they work.
On the available evidence, these treatments do not seem to be effective.
These treatments have not been properly researched. It is not possible to say whether they are useful or not.