Effects of psychotherapeutic treatments for PTSD: A meta-analysis of controlled clinical trials


  • Jeffrey J. Sherman

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Washington, College of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, Box 356560, Seattle, Washington 98195-6560
    • c/o Dr. Charles R. Carlson, Department of Psychology, University of Kentucky, 112 Kastle Hall, Lexington, Kentucky 40506-0044
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This meta-analysis synthesized the results from controlled, clinical trials of psychotherapeutic treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Psychotherapeutic modalities included behavioral, cognitive, and psychodynamic treatments, in group and individual settings. Participants in the studies included combat veterans from the Vietnam and Lebanon Wars, crime-related victims, and severe bereavement sufferers. The impact of psychotherapy on PTSD and psychiatric symptomatology was significant, d = .52, r = .25, when measured immediately after treatments were administered. Similarly, there was no decay in the effect of treatment at follow-up, d = .64, r = .31. Moreover, for target symptoms of PTSD and general psychological symptoms (intrusion, avoidance, hyperarousal, anxiety, and depression), effect sizes were significant, ranging from r's of .2–.49. Results suggest substantial promise for improving psychological health and decreasing related symptoms for those suffering from PTSD.