About Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE)

 

Prolonged Exposure (PE) Therapy is commonly thought to be a new treatment for PTSD, however, PE has been used and extensively studied for more than 20 years. Research has shown that PE Therapy produces clinically significant improvement in about 80% of clients with chronic PTSD (www.med.upenn.edu).

 

What is different about PE?

Differing from traditional "talk" therapies, treatment with PE therapy consists of an average of 9 – 12: 90-min weekly or bi-weekly sessions. 

PE works by reducing symptoms of PTSD (anxiety, fear, avoidance, depression) by educating and supporting the client regarding their reactions toward trauma, utilizing techniques such as breathing retraining, “in vivo” (real life) exposure to anxiety-provoking situations, and “imaginal” (in memory) exposure to the trauma memory.

In 2001, Prolonged Exposure for PTSD received an Exemplary Substance Abuse Prevention Program Award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). PE was selected by SAMHSA and the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention as a Model Program for national dissemination.

PE Therapy is a structured therapy that should only be provided by clinicians trained and experienced in PE techniques. PE therapists have received specific training, as well as guidance and supervision on a number of cases before they can truly call themselves “PE therapists.”

Someone receiving PE Therapy should verify that the clinician has received directed PE Therapy training before engaging in this method of treatment.