Empirically Supported Psychological Treatments: Prolonged Exposure

Nisha Nayak, Mark B. Powers and Edna B. Foa

in The Oxford Handbook of Traumatic Stress Disorders

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780195399066
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Empirically Supported Psychological Treatments: Prolonged Exposure

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A large body of evidence supports the efficacy of exposure therapy for the treatment of anxiety disorders, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This chapter discusses Prolonged Exposure (PE) therapy, a structured treatment program that uses imaginal and in vivo exposure as the core elements of treatment. It was first applied with survivors of sexual assault but has since been widely applied to survivors of all types of traumas. The chapter provides a description of the treatment program. It also discusses emotional processing theory and proposed underlying mechanisms of the therapy, including fear activation, habituation, and modification of dysfunctional beliefs. The chapter then reviews empirical studies, which have demonstrated the efficacy of PE, and data that support the generalizability of positive outcomes across trauma types, treatment settings, and cultures. Limitations and future directions for research are discussed.

Keywords: exposure therapy; prolonged exposure; pe; posttraumatic stress disorder; ptsd; emotional processing theory

Article.  8596 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Clinical Psychology

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