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PTSD: National Center for PTSD


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Talk Therapy

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“It's very important to unlock what caused the PTSD.”

Sarah Humphries

U.S. Army, 1994-2012

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Talk Therapy

Available en Español

The treatments that work best for PTSD are trauma-focused psychotherapies (or, talk therapies). "Trauma-focused" means that the therapy focuses on your memory of the traumatic event or what it means to you. There are other talk therapies that do not focus on your trauma. Learn about the research for different talk therapies and what you can expect in treatment.

Most of the therapies below last for 3 to 4 months. Then, if you still have symptoms, you and your therapist can talk about ways to manage them using skills you learned in treatment.

Trauma-Focused Talk Therapies for PTSD

  • Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)
    CPT teaches you how change the upsetting thoughts and feelings you have had since your trauma.
  • Prolonged Exposure (PE)
    PE teaches you to gradually approach trauma-related memories, feelings and situations that you have been avoiding since your trauma.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
    EMDR helps you process and make sense of your trauma while paying attention to a back-and-forth movement or sound (like a finger waving side to side, a light, or a tone).
  • Written Exposure Therapy (WET)
    WET helps you find new ways to think about your trauma and its meaning through writing assignments you complete during sessions. This is a brief, 5-session therapy.

Other Talk Therapies for PTSD

Which PTSD Treatment Is Best for You?

No one treatment is right for everyone. Learn about effective treatment options with PTSD Treatment Decision Aid. You can read about different treatments, hear advice from people who have been through these treatments, and watch videos of providers explaining how the treatments work. You can also build a chart to compare the treatments you like the most and print a personalized summary that lists your symptoms, treatment preferences, and questions to share with your provider.

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PTSD Treatment Decision Aid: The choice is yours. Get Started.

PTSD Decision Aid

Compare options and make the best choice for PTSD treatment.

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Hear from Veterans who have turned their lives around with PTSD treatment.

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Understanding PTSD and PTSD Treatment (PDF)

A complete guide to PTSD basics.

PTSD Information Voice Mail: (802) 296-6300
Also see: VA Mental Health