Problem Area: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

2015 EST Status: Treatment pending re-evaluation Very strong: High-quality evidence that treatment improves symptoms and functional outcomes at post-treatment and follow-up; little risk of harm; requires reasonable amount of resources; effective in non-research settings

Strong: Moderate- to high-quality evidence that treatment improves symptoms OR functional outcomes; not a high risk of harm; reasonable use of resources

Weak: Low or very low-quality evidence that treatment produces clinically meaningful effects on symptoms or functional outcomes; Gains from the treatment may not warrant resources involved

Insufficient Evidence: No meta-analytic study could be identified

Insufficient Evidence: Existing meta-analyses are not of sufficient quality

Treatment pending re-evaluation

1998 EST Status: Strong Research Support Strong: Support from two well-designed studies conducted by independent investigators.

Modest: Support from one well-designed study or several adequately designed studies.

Controversial: Conflicting results, or claims regarding mechanisms are unsupported.

Strength of Research Support

Empirical Review Status
2015 Criteria
(Tolin et al. Recommendation)
Very Strong
Insufficient Evidence
Treatment pending re-evaluation
1998 Criteria
(Chambless et al. EST)

Find a Therapist specializing in Prolonged Exposure Therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. List your practice

Brief Summary

  • Basic premise: repeated exposure to trauma-related thoughts, feelings, and situations can help reduce the power they have to cause distress
  • Essence of therapy: Prolonged Exposure Therapy consists of imaginal exposures, which involve recounting the traumatic memory and processing the revisiting experience, as well as in vivo exposures in which the client repeatedly confronts trauma-related stimuli that were safe but previously avoided.
  • Length: approx. 8-15 sessions

Treatment Resources

Editors: Denise Sloan, PhD; Alexandra Greenfield, MS

Note: The resources provided below are intended to supplement not replace foundational training in mental health treatment and evidence-based practice

Treatment Manuals / Outlines

Books Available for Purchase Through External Sites

Training Materials and Workshops

Measures, Handouts and Worksheets

  • PTSD Symptom Scale – Interview for DSM-5 (PSS-I-5); Manual for PSSI-I-5
  • PTSD Symptom Scale – Self-Report for DSM-5 (PSS-SR-5)
  • Child Posttraumatic Stress Scale – Interview for DSM-5 (CPSS-I-5); Manual for CPSS-I-5
  • Child Posttraumatic Stress Scale – Self-Report for DSM-5 (CPSS-SR-5); Scoring Key for CPSS-SR-5
  • Posttraumatic Cognitions Inventory (PTCI); Subscales for PTCI; Scoring Key for PTCI
  • Prolonged Exposure Therapy for PTSD: Teen Workbook (Chrestman, Gilboa-Schechtman, & Foa)

Smartphone Apps

Video Demonstrations

Video Repository
  • Dateline story on Prolonged Exposure (2004)

Embedded video for members only

Video Descriptions

Video Repository
  • Edna Foa on emotional processing theory in an intensive workshop at the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety (2013)

Embedded video for members only

Embedded video for members only

  • Edna Foa on the “Biting Dog” Model for structuring exposures in an intensive workshop at the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety (2013)

Embedded video for members only

  • Al Jazeera segment on PE for adolescents with sexual trauma

Embedded video for members only

Clinical Trials

Meta-analyses and Systematic Reviews