Cognitive Behavior Therapy for PTSD in Rape Survivors

Published in: In Session: Psychotherapy in Practice, v. 3, no. 4, 1997, p. 43-58

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 1996

by Lisa H. Jaycox, Lori A. Zoellner, Edna B. Foa

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A model of cognitive-behavioral treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in rape survivors is presented. Emotional processing theory, which proposes mechanisms that underlie the development of disturbances following rape, is reviewed. A combination therapy that includes education about common reactions to trauma, relaxation training, imaginal reliving of the rape memory, exposure to trauma reminders, and cognitive restructuring is presented. The case example of a young female rape survivor is described in detail, including her assessments before and after therapy. In this case, issues of prior substance dependence and intense shame and guilt are highlighted. The therapy was successful in reducing the client's symptoms of PTSD as well as her depressive symptoms, and these gains were maintained at a 1-year follow-up assessment.

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