PTSD Therapies

Only you and your therapist can decide which therapy or combination of therapy and medication is right for you. The 3 therapies on this page have been proven to help people with PTSD.

Sherrie Warner

Prolonged Exposure (PE)


PE - Veteran Frederick Gantt
Veteran Frederick Gantt

In PE, you work with your therapist to identify the thoughts, feelings, and situations that make you anxious or afraid. Then you confront those thoughts, feelings, and situations over and over again — by talking about them, and by going out into the real world to experience them. It sounds scary, but facing things you’re afraid of in a safe way can help you learn that you don’t need to avoid reminders of the trauma.

PE has 4 parts:

1 Learning about your symptoms and how therapy can help.
2 Practicing breathing exercises to help you relax and manage stress.
3 Visiting places and situations that you avoid, so you can see they are safe, and learn to feel safe in them.
4 Talking about the trauma over and over, to help you get more control of your thoughts and feelings.

Learn about Veteran Frederick Gantt's experience with PE


Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)


CPT - Veteran Christopher Tyler
Veteran Christopher Tyler

After a trauma, it’s common to get "stuck" on negative thoughts — like thinking what happened is your fault or that the world is very dangerous. CPT helps you move forward by teaching you how to make sense of your thoughts about the trauma. Changing how you think can change how you feel.

CPT has 4 parts:

1 Learning about your symptoms and how therapy can help.
2 Talking through your thoughts and feelings about the trauma. Some therapists may also ask you to write about the trauma.
3 Learning how to challenge your thoughts so you can think about your trauma in a way that’s less upsetting.
4 Understanding how trauma can change your beliefs about yourself and the world.

Learn about Veteran Christopher Tyler's experience with CPT


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)


CPT - Veteran Rogelio “Roger” Rodriguez Jr.
Veteran Rogelio “Roger” Rodriguez Jr.

In EMDR, you work with your therapist to process your trauma and make sense of what happened. You’ll choose a specific memory from the trauma, and pay attention to it while focusing on a back and forth movement (like an object, a tone, or a tap). Over time, this helps your brain work through the memories so that thinking about the trauma isn’t as upsetting anymore.

EMDR includes:

1 Learning about your symptoms and how therapy can help.
2 Practicing ways to relax and manage stress.
3 Choosing a memory from the trauma and identifying the negative thoughts, emotions, and feelings in your body that go with it.
4 Paying attention to the memory while focusing on a back and forth movement — until you start to experience the memory in a way that’s less upsetting.
5 Finding a new, positive thought that comes up as you work through the memory.

Learn about Veteran Rogelio “Roger” Rodriguez Jr.’s experience with EMDR


To learn more about different PTSD treatments, and answer questions to see which treatment might be a good fit for you, check out this PTSD Treatment Decision Aid.