Only you and your therapist can decide which therapy or combination of therapy and medication is right for you. The two therapies described on this page, Prolonged Exposure and Cognitive Processing Therapy are "evidence based." This means they have been proven to provide the best chance of recovery for the vast majority of people with PTSD.

Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE)

Veteran Frederick Gantt

With PE, you and your therapist identify the situations and events that make you anxious or afraid. Then you repeatedly confront those situations. You talk about them. You go out into the real world and confront them. You learn special breathing techniques to use when you get anxious. Over time, your distress should subside and you should feel safer and more comfortable.

PE has four parts:

1 Learning about your symptoms and how therapy can help.
2 Retraining your breathing to help relax and manage stress.
3 Visiting places and situations you avoid not only to see they are safe, but to feel safe in them.
4 Talking over the trauma to gain control of your thoughts and feelings.

Learn about Veteran Frederick Gantt's experience with PE

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)

Veteran Christopher Tyler

Trauma sometimes causes a person's thoughts to get "stuck" on an event, making it hard to process what happened and move beyond it. CPT helps you move forward by teaching you the skills to make sense of your thoughts and understand how they've changed the way you look at the world and yourself. Changing how you think can change how you feel.

CPT has four parts:

1 Learning about your symptoms and how therapy can help.
2 Becoming aware of your thoughts and feelings.
3 Learning the skills to challenge your thoughts and feelings.
4 Understanding the changes in beliefs that happen after a trauma.

Learn about Veteran Christopher Tyler's experience with CPT

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National Center for PTSD