In addition to medications, other treatments are available to help you manage PTSD. These include the following:

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is a relatively new therapy for trauma survivors. It includes components of exposure therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy, combined with eye movements. This results in the alteration of attention. It is believed that this technique may help you access and process traumatic material.

Group Therapy

Group therapy allows you to share your traumatic experience in a safe, cohesive, and supportive environment with other trauma survivors. A group setting can help you achieve greater understanding and trust as you face your anger, grief, anxiety , and guilt about the trauma. Through group therapy, you can learn to cope with symptoms, memories, and other painful aspects of your life.

Brief Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

Brief psychodynamic psychotherapy helps you deal with emotional conflicts caused by the traumatic experience, especially as they relate to childhood experiences. This type of therapy will help you build a greater sense of self-esteem and develop more effective ways of thinking, coping, and dealing with intense emotions. Your therapist can also help you identify present situations that trigger traumatic memories and worsen PTSD symptoms.

Cognitive-behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT can help you examine your feelings and thought patterns, learn to interpret them in a more realistic way, and apply coping techniques to various situations. CBT can teach you coping skills, such as breathing exercises, to reduce anxiety, negative thoughts, and anger. It may also help you handle future trauma, reduce your urge to use alcohol or drugs for coping, and help you relate more effectively with people.

One form of CBT commonly used with trauma survivors is exposure therapy.

Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PET)

PET emphasizes reducing avoidance of traumatic memories. Various techniques are used to help you re-experience the trauma in a safe, controlled, therapeutic setting so that you can face and gain control over the fear and distress that accompanied the trauma. These include the following:

  • Flooding—for example, your therapist asks you to focus on several bad memories at once
  • Imaginal exposure—repeatedly reliving the traumatic events in your mind
  • In vivo exposure—planned confrontations with objects or situations that prompt bad memories and increase anxiety

These therapies can be done gradually, using relaxation techniques and desensitization.

In study involving female military personnel suffering from PTSD, prolonged exposure was significantly more effective at relieving, and even resolving, PTSD symptoms than supportive (non-CBT) therapy after 10 weekly sessions. Other studies have found that compared to EMDR and relaxation training therapies, PET was the most effective in reducing occurrences of re-experiencing symptoms, was the most efficient and effective in reducing avoidance, and resulted in the most patients no longer meeting the criteria for PTSD after treatment.