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A Couple-Based Approach to the Reduction of PTSD Avoidance Symptoms: Preliminary Findings

Authors


  • Frederic J. Sautter, PhD, is Director of Family Mental Health at the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Core Investigator for the South Central Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center; Shirley M. Glynn, PhD, is Research Psychologist at the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Associate Research Psychologist at the UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in Los Angeles, California; Karin E. Thompson, PhD, is Staff Psychologist in the PTSD Program at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Memphis, Tennessee; Laurel Franklin, PhD, is Program Manager of the OEF/OIF Trauma Recovery Program in the PTSD Program of the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System in New Orleans, Louisiana; Xiaotong Han is Statistical Research Consultant in the South Central Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Address correspondence to Frederic J. Sautter, Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System, Mental Health Service Line, PO Box 61011, New Orleans, Louisiana 70161; E-mail: fredericsautter@msn.com

Abstract

This study reports preliminary findings regarding the feasibility and efficacy of a novel couple-based treatment, named Strategic Approach Therapy (SAT), for reducing avoidance symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Six male Vietnam combat veterans diagnosed with PTSD and their cohabitating marital partners participated in 10 weeks of SAT treatment. Self-report, clinician ratings, and partner ratings of PTSD symptoms were obtained before the first session and after the tenth session of treatment. Veterans reported statistically significant reductions in self-reported, clinician-rated, and partner-rated effortful avoidance, emotional numbing, and overall PTSD severity. These data indicate that SAT offers promise as an effective treatment for PTSD avoidance symptoms.

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