Department of Psychiatry

Penn Behavioral Health

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Treatment of PTSD at the CTSA

In 1984, the Center began research and treatment programs for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). We now offer cutting-edge cognitive-behavioral therapy programs that typically consist of eight to fifteen weekly or twice weekly sessions of a cognitive-behavioral therapy program called prolonged exposure (PE). Sessions last about one and a half hours each, and are designed to enable trauma survivors to overcome their fear, anxiety, and stress. Therapy includes discussing frightening thoughts, breathing retraining, confronting safe situations, and/or by revisiting and recounting  painful memories in order to process them and reduce their emotional impact.

Treatment of children with PTSD

Treatment is available at the CTSA for children and adolescents who have been exposed to traumatic or life-threatening events and have developed symptoms of PTSD. This treatment is organized around modules that allow the program to be tailored to the developmental level of the child. In this treatment, the child will learn about trauma and its effects, skills for managing stress, and the value of confronting and overcoming fear. The program is developmentally sensitive and encourages youth  to confront feared situations and traumatic memories.

Eligibility

Before entering a treatment program at the Center, patients first complete a phone screening interview with one of our intake coordinators. If appropriate, patients then schedule and complete an extensive psychological evaluation with a clinician. Patients are interviewed at length and complete a number of specialized assessment forms to ensure an accurate diagnosis. The information gathered during this evaluation is used to determine if the person has an anxiety or stress problem and which treatment best matches the patient's needs. The results of the evaluation are discussed with the patient and treatment recommendations are offered. If the evaluation indicates that the treatment programs at the Center are appropriate for the person, then arrangements for treatment will be made following the evaluation.

Watch the following video to learn more about PE:

 


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