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Adjusting the Timeframe of Evidence-Based Therapies for PTSD-Massed Treatments



Current clinical practice guidelines for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) strongly recommend individual manualized trauma-focused therapy. However, it can be challenging for patients to complete a full course of treatment. There has been recent interest in modifying the format of evidence-based psychotherapies for PTSD to be delivered within a shorter time frame to reduce the likelihood of dropout and optimize the potential for a positive treatment outcome. This article will review the existing literature on massed psychotherapies for PTSD, including only the treatments highly recommended by the current PTSD treatment guidelines that have been modified to an intensive format.

Recent Findings

The literature supporting massed treatment formats for PTSD is limited to date. Two randomized clinical trials (RCTs) provide the strongest evidence for efficacy for prolonged exposure and cognitive therapy for PTSD, and preliminary studies of cognitive processing therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing are promising.


Current results suggest that massed formats of existing evidence-based psychotherapies for PTSD are promising efficient and effective methods to expedite recovery from PTSD symptoms. Additional RCTs are needed to demonstrate the efficacy of these treatments in a range of patient populations.

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References and Recommended Reading

Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Correspondence to Jennifer Schuster Wachen PhD.

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Conflict of Interest

Katherine A. Dondanville, Wyatt R. Evans, Kris Morris, and Allison Cole declare no conflict of interest.

Jennifer Schuster Wachen currently receives Department of Defense funding to conduct a trial of massed Cognitive Processing Therapy.

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This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on PTSD

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Wachen, J.S., Dondanville, K.A., Evans, W.R. et al. Adjusting the Timeframe of Evidence-Based Therapies for PTSD-Massed Treatments. Curr Treat Options Psych 6, 107–118 (2019).

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  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • PTSD
  • Massed treatment
  • Intensive treatment
  • Cognitive therapy
  • Exposure therapy