Purpose of review
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious disorder with high rates of chronicity and significant functional impairment. There is strong research support for several psychotherapies that focus on trauma, and these are recommended as first-line treatments. However, many patients are reluctant or unwilling to engage in treatments that focus on trauma, and some desire treatment for other pressing issues. As such, there is a need for effective alternative treatment options. The purpose of this review is to describe existing non-trauma-focused psychotherapies and summarize the available evidence for these treatments.
A large number of studies have examined the efficacy of non-trauma-focused therapies. Present-centered therapy (PCT), interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), and several cognitive-behavioral approaches that focus on skills training and/or cognitive restructuring, and to a lesser extent, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) have empirical support from comparisons with wait-list or minimal attention controls and/or comparisons with trauma-focused therapies. Additional promising non-trauma-focused approaches with less evidence include mindfulness and meditation approaches and Skills Training for Affective and Interpersonal Regulation (STAIR).
Although the evidence for trauma-focused therapy for PTSD remains the strongest, there is evidence supporting the use of these non-trauma-focused therapies for PTSD.
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Conflict of Interest
M. Tracie Shea, Janice K. Krupnick, Paula P. Schnurr, and Bradley Belsher declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
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Shea, M.T., Krupnick, J.L., Belsher, B.E. et al. Non-Trauma-Focused Psychotherapies for the Treatment of PTSD: a Descriptive Review. Curr Treat Options Psych 7, 242–257 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40501-020-00214-y