Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 143–173 | Cite as

A Review of the Role of Negative Cognitions About Oneself, Others, and the World in the Treatment of PTSD

  • Lily A. BrownEmail author
  • Gina M. Belli
  • Anu Asnaani
  • Edna B. Foa
Original Article


Negative cognitions about oneself, others, and the world are central to the development and maintenance of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We provide a comprehensive review of the literature examining the change in post-trauma negative cognitions in PTSD treatments. We explore the association between change in cognitions and change in PTSD symptoms and the mediational effect of negative cognitions on PTSD symptoms. A review of over 2000 manuscripts resulted in 65 PTSD treatment articles for review that included a measure of negative post-trauma cognitions and PTSD severity. Several studies found that PTSD treatments are associated with concurrent reductions in PTSD symptoms and negative post-trauma cognitions. Many studies suggest that the degree of reduction in negative post-trauma cognitions is both associated with the degree of reduction in PTSD symptoms and may mediate the change in PTSD symptoms in treatment. PTSD treatments are associated with significant improvements in negative post-trauma cognitions that often precede and predict reductions in PTSD symptoms.


Negative posttrauma cognitions Posttraumatic stress disorder PTSD Treatment 



This study was not funded by any grants.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Drs. Brown, Asnaani and Foa have received research grants from the Department of Defense and the National Institute of Health. Dr. Foa has received income from books written on posttraumatic stress disorder.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lily A. Brown
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gina M. Belli
    • 1
  • Anu Asnaani
    • 1
  • Edna B. Foa
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

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