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December 25, 2013

Prolonged Exposure Therapy for PTSD in Sexually Abused Adolescents

Author Affiliations
  • 1Lund University, Lund, Sweden
  • 2Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, London, United Kingdom
JAMA. 2013;310(24):2619-2620. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.283944

Prolonged exposure (PE) therapy is an established treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adults, having been used effectively in a variety of clinical contexts and with a wide range of trauma-exposed groups (ie, combat veterans and survivors of violence and man-made and natural disasters).1 Prolonged exposure is a theory-driven approach that involves 2 forms of therapeutic exposure: gradually increasing contact with situations and cues that trigger PTSD symptoms (in vivo exposure) and the voluntary recall of the traumatic event in as much detail as possible (imaginal exposure).2 The patient is led through both forms of exposure by the therapist in session, and only then are patient-led, exposure-based homework assignments given. Therapist-led exposure begins after only 1 to 2 sessions involving the provision of a treatment rationale, information about common reactions to trauma, and goal-setting. No further preparation of the patient for exposure (eg, extensive training in arousal reduction skills) is required for PE therapy to be safe, tolerable, and effective with adults.1,2