Trauma-Focused Therapy: Effectiveness on Patients Experiencing PTSD

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Introduction to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder, commonly referred to as PTSD, is a psychological condition relating to a person’s mental well-being primarily caused by a previous disturbing experience. Common predisposing factors of this disorder include but are not limited to extreme tension, rapid shifts between moods, hypersensitivity, and successive anamnesis. Other probable causes of PTSD have been linked to a former encounter of abuse as a child, kidnapping, involvement in a severe accident, physical attack by armed persons, drug and substance abuse, job loss, prolonged sickness, and death of close family members.

From a statistical point of view, approximately seven point nine million residents in the United States have been diagnosed with PTSD, with a whooping four-point-one percent of the cases being reported last year (Lely et al., 2019). The majority of the victims were men aged between 31 and 53, a trend that has been consistent for almost a decade, with a very small proportion of them seeking medical attention. An additional three-point six percent are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder when younger than 18 years, while two-point three percent of adults have linked their PTSD to traumatic childhood experiences (Mavranezouli et al., 2020). The COVID-19 pandemic and its implications ranked first among the predisposing factors for the unprecedented annual statistics.

Challenges such as the loss of jobs and relatives reinforced by the global economic drawdown and unfavorable business cycles contributed significantly to the increase in PTSD-reported cases. For most victims, it is very difficult to return to a state of normalcy while others may experience a false feeling of well-being for a while, especially if they are abuse drugs to escape their reality. The use of drugs to counteract PTSD is a societal myth that has been propagated over the years, with several victims reporting to have felt better after taking alcohol and other narcotics (Skilbeck, Spanton & Roylance, 2021). The authors argue further that drugs only offer a temporary shift in the state of mind and overdependence on them may lead to more health-related complications such as liver cirrhosis and cardiovascular diseases.

It is, therefore, important for PTSD patients to receive proper care as well as regular, reliable counseling or medication to overcome the condition. Effective treatment can help to alleviate most of the symptoms cited above, especially if initiated early enough. One of these measures involves the application of Trauma-Focused Therapy, an approach that is widely employed by psychologists in the modern-day treatment of trauma-related disorders. A breakdown of the relevance, efficacy, and impacts of TFT as the best method of treating trauma-related experiences forms the basis of discussion for this paper.

Historical Background of TFT

In early 2006 a group of mental psychotherapists led by Dr. Antony Mannarino suggested a framework that aimed at promoting psychological awareness for victims experiencing mental instability conditions, including PTSD. The model, later referred to as Trauma-Focused Therapy, was initially meant for children, adolescents, and young adults. However, results from randomized clinical trials conducted on adults between the ages of 35 and 50 over the years prove the techniques as efficient as it surpasses the set cluster of criteria (Kameoka et al., 2020). This led to a wider application of the technique for treating both mild and severe PTSD cases across the world.

Trauma-Focused Therapy (TFT)

As mentioned earlier, one of the effective ways of treating PTSD is through Trauma-Focused Therapy. The model is based on a strong mindset, transformational foundation and behavioral change through exposure and counseling sessions. The therapist’s goal is to enable post-traumatic stress disorder patients to overcome mental humiliation caused by recurring trauma-related thoughts in the form of terrifying flashbacks and replace them with healthy memories and thought processes. Many PTSD cases linked to familial violence, sexual assault, childhood molestation, natural calamities, and harassment have been successfully treated through randomized controlled trials that incorporated the TFT model.

In one of the trials, 105 participants of ages 17 to 45 from different geographical topographies were divided into two distinct study cohorts, with the placebo groups receiving medical-based interventions (Mavranezouli et al., 2020). The other group received TFT treatment and research findings were analyzed on a fortnight basis. From the study, 73.5% of participants reported a faster prognosis and more than half of them were from the non-placebo cohort (Mavranezouli et al., 2020). It is important to note that trauma-focused therapy as a whole has three distinct subcategories.

The first component is prolonged exposure therapy, which teaches the patient ways that he can use to take charge and deal with negative flashbacks directly. Secondly, cognitive processing therapy, commonly referred to as CPT, has proven to be an effective treatment tool under the multifaceted TFT approach. In this subset, the patient suffering from PTSD receives counseling regarding the techniques that he can use to restructure his thought patterns. The first step requires the subject to elaborate his conditions to the therapist, who in return sets small milestones that must be achieved every day. Cognitive processing therapy sometimes employs the use of decentralization of eye movement techniques. In this approach, the patient is subjected to a mental introspection program, projecting himself as fully recovered while listening to a musical playing instrument or paying attention to a unidirectional sound. Even though the decentralization of the eye movement technique has produced positive results since its inception, there is no scientific research supporting this method.

The third component of the TFT strategy is stress inoculation training. This segment primarily focuses on reducing depression among PTSD patients. The therapist organizes special counseling and mentorship sessions in which the subject is taught how to handle stress during and after recovery. The victim is prepared psychologically on how he should react toward specific encounters in life and make rational decisions in case of a re-encounter with PTSD.

Therapists usually emphasize teaching the patient about basic voluntary and involuntary actions performed by the body. For example, the former may reinforce the need for proper and relaxed breathing when faced with a stress-inducing factor or circumstance. Most therapists understand that how an individual reacts to an occurrence that triggers anxiety in the first few days usually determines the magnitude and extent of the depression. In that regard, they encourage patients to maintain a balanced assertion, normal breathing, and muscle relaxation to avoid further adverse manifestations.

Relevance and Effectiveness of Using Trauma-Focused Therapy to Treat PTSD

From the section above, it is factual to conclude that clinical trials on the efficacy of TFT have ranked it as the best remedy for the treatment of PTSD compared to the use of antidepressants. The medication approach, which produced unfavorable recovery rates, requires the patient to receive serotonin uptake inhibitors like phenelzine and paroxetine. However, prolonged use of these drugs may cause the body to develop mutant genes to the extent that further uptake does not produce any favorable results.

On the contrary, trauma-focused therapy does not alter, in any way, the normal functioning of the body despite its duration of use. It can therefore be used on a long-term basis. while guaranteeing a gradual improvement in the thoughts and beliefs of the PTSD victim. The main reason for the favorable results from TFT is that the rubric is prioritizing the long-term needs of the patient rather than immediate recovery. It can capitalize and claim control over the negative and traumatic experience of the PTSD victim by blending a wide array of patient-centered techniques discussed in the sections below. In addition, trauma-focused therapy concentrates on the most fundamental steps in counseling; identification of the problem and estimating its magnitude.

Thereafter, the problem is criticized based on how, why, where, when, and how the trauma happened. Unlike other treatment strategies, TFT emphasizes the need for change in thought patterns and perceptions about oneself and the surrounding environment. This is usually achieved during and after counseling whereby the patient undergoes successive sessions and the techniques mastered during such forums are practiced regularly. The mastery of such essential skills through repetition and positive affirmation has an effect of eliminating PTSD symptoms.

Statistical Data Regarding the Application and Efficacy of TFT

As forecited, several preexisting research findings and literature reviews have authenticated the widespread use of trauma-focused therapy in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. These clinical findings provide a solid empirical foundation for therapists who employ it in their counseling. In addition, the research data provides room for researchers to explore potential gaps in information and conduct further studies that would ascertain the efficacy of trauma-focused therapy as a reliable intervention for combating PTSD. For instance, the table below shows data obtained from one of the randomized controlled trials regarding the application of TFT

Table Showing Cognitive Processing Therapy and Medical Induced Prognosis Rate for PTSD in Indian Women

Characteristics of the study cohort The extent of the condition Recovery rate in percentage for TFT Recovery rate in percentage for SUI
Unemployed Mild 15(45) 15(43.7)
Married Mild 36(65.8) 36(51.9)
College-going Mild 10(46) 10(43.8)
Involved in accidents Severe 24(67.6) 24(51.4)
Military trauma Mild 15(52.1) 15(40.3)
Prolonged illness history Severe 31(56.5) 31(50)
Sexual assault Severe 34(61.3) 34(38)

From the above representation, it can be denoted that participants from three study cohorts namely married, accidents, and sexual assault recorded over 60% recovery rate, whereby two-thirds of the group were in their severe phases. Patients suffering post-traumatic stress in marriage had higher chances of recovery, thus validating the efficacy of couple therapy. Participants from the unemployed cohort registered the lowest rates of recovery under the two interventions. On the same note, the military-induced trauma and prolonged illness groups recorded favorable 52.1% and 56.5% prognosis rates, respectively, whereas only two cohorts registered a below 50% recovery ratio (Rozek et al., 2021). This implies that the cognitive processing therapy had a success rate of 71.42% which is quite favorable considering the severity to the mild ratio of the participants.

On the other hand, the success rate from medically induced intervention using Serotonin Uptake Inhibitor (SUI) and antidepressants was comparatively lower, with only three out of the seven cohorts recording a convalescence of over 50%. It is noticeable that in cases when cognitive processing therapy-a subset of TFT-recorded results below 50%, serotonin uptake inhibitors recorded even lower success rates (Rozek et al., 2021). For example, in the first study cohort, TFT registered a 45% recovery ratio, while medically induced SUI recorded a one-point three percent lower convalescence rate compared to the TFT group.

Concurrently, in cases where TFT recorded rates above 60%, medically induced SUI recorded a higher convalescence but did not surpass TFT’s rates in any of those group results as shown in the table (Lewis et al., 2020). These study findings give clear accreditation and acknowledgment to TFT as a better tool for combating post-traumatic stress disorder compared to the medically induced SUI approach. It is equally important to note that each intervention received the same number of study participants to obtain reliable and reproducible results. Although the study was exclusively conducted on Indian women, the sample size used was considerable enough and obtained from different geospatial coordinates across the country. Therefore, the results can be applied and generalized in wider demographical settings and the inferences obtained will remain reliable and empirical.

According to the above randomized clinical trial, it is evident that the medically induced SUI approach, despite its widespread global use, is not the best approach for treating PTSD patients. The technique is not pivoted on a patient-centered foundation but focuses primarily on making the patient better within the shortest time possible. This is a good strategy for harnessing quick positive results but in the long run, it confers the least benefits to the patient (Danzi & La Greca, 2021). It is important to note that some patients may develop allergic reactions to the medication, while others may choose to quit once they experience positive results within the first few weeks. This becomes very detrimental to them in the future since the chances of reoccurrence will be higher. The section that follows highlights some of the impacts of Trauma-focused Therapy as a tool to counteract past traumatic experiences among PTSD victims.

Impact of TFT on Controlling Negative and Traumatic Experiences

Proper trauma-focused therapy is very essential in controlling negative and traumatic experiences. In such contexts, the patient is induced into a form of yoga or meditation to allow him to liberate his mind from the flashbacks relating to the traumatic experience. On the same note, the exposure therapy approach is employed to strengthen the patient’s grit. During this program, the victim is subjected to a traumatic moment but in a calm and relaxed atmosphere. Continuous exposure is capable of repelling negative and traumatic memories and replacing them with a new thought pattern and mental framework (Jericho, Luo & Berle, 2022). The adoption of prolonged exposure creates a new mental dimension for the patient; hence the PTSD condition can no longer trigger traumatic memories, as seen in one of the symptoms.

Prolonged exposure targets making the subject accept and overcome traumatic encounters through a gradual transition from disturbing flashbacks to healthier memories and emotions. On the contrary, the use of serotonin uptake inhibitors and other medically induced approaches cannot transform the patient’s thought patterns, perspectives, and beliefs (Danzi & La Greca, 2021). This implies that even though the patient might recover from the disorder, a new streak of positive thoughts will not be guaranteed to replace those from his trauma-related experience. The section that follows highlights how the TFT strategy can be employed to overcome and manage negative emotions arising from a traumatizing encounter.

Impact of TFT on Overcoming Negating Emotions

The use of cognitive processing therapy is usually pivoted based on eliminating negative thinking linked to the past traumatic experience. The rubric tries to change how the patient portrays his self-image, confidence, and reflection. In most cases, trauma-related feeling and belief is the main source of further depression and anxiety among PTSD patients. It is, therefore the responsibility of cognitive process thinking to redefine the victim’s personal opinions, perceptions towards other people, and things within his environment.

It is evident that many people, after a traumatizing encounter, remain glued to negative thinking thus limiting their prognosis while lowering self-esteem. In the long run, the PTSD victim gets even worse as he shifts from blaming himself to more severe phases such as suicidal thoughts. In that regard, TFT through cognitive processing therapy helps to keep the patient’s thought processes in check, ensuring only strings of positive introspections and a balanced feeling of well dominate the patient’s mind (Danzi & La Greca, 2021). Moreover, it impacts the PTSD victim with the knowledge that he can use to scrutinize thoughts, beliefs, and imaginations about the trauma-related experience to ensure that they are factual rather than exaggerated and unauthentic beliefs.

On the other hand, there is no knowledge or skills that other PTSD treatment modalities can impact the patient. Approaches such as medical interventions that require the patient to constantly take anti-depressant pills do not educate the patient hence should be given lesser priority when selecting effective treatment methods. The application of the cognitive processing therapy approach reduced the extent of intrusive thoughts among PTSD patients, as cited by authors Danzi and La Grecia in the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology.

Impact of TFT on Prevention of Intrusive Thoughts from Deterring Patient’s Objectivity

Intrusive thoughts can be described as unhealthy reminiscence that occasionally reoccurs in a victim. The recurrent of nature these negative thoughts makes it difficult for PTSD patients to maintain a positive streak of friendly and productive reasoning. Generally, such memories are characterized by repetitive negative thought patterns and can greatly affect an individual’s concentration span (Ford et al., 2022). In severe cases, the induced overthinking can affect the victim’s memory retention and the ability to make rational decisions in a short term. In the long run, a person may suffer from acute memory loss as the PTSD condition escalates. Frequent shock signals send by the brain to the nervous system may negatively impact on the victim’s ability to remain composed in the absence of other people. Patients encounter a series of disturbing event in their mind which occurs in the form of scary dreams that are directly linked to past traumatic experience.

The TFT rubric becomes significant in this scenario by blending different counseling styles while ensuring victims establish a close interpersonal relationship between the patient and the doctor. In that regard, chances of repeated stress signals from the brain are reduced as the patient can address his therapist directly regarding his progress and the challenges he might be facing. The close relationship established over time through a series of therapy sessions makes the patient feel comfortable and remain open-minded throughout the treatment and recovery phases. On the contrary, the medical intervention approach cannot offer any form of association for the patient. The patient, therefore, lacks a reliable support system and the pills may end up being less effective over time as a result of overdependence.

Post-traumatic stress disorder victims need utmost care since when left alone they can be very susceptible to drug abuse. The use of serotonin uptake inhabitants may provide temporary relief to these patients. However, accurate recovery results can only be obtained once they undergo complete therapy sessions. The level of social anxiety among these patients does not allow them to expand their social circles, thus limiting their chances of successful recovery even further. The limited social ties among individuals suffering from stress-related disorders have contributed to an increased number of PTSD patients over the years. Patients who recover from this disorder through the medication approach should be encouraged to seek additional therapy to prevent such conditions from re-occurring.

Similarly, clinicians who prescribe antidepressant pills to these patients should emphasize the need for further counseling forums. Memories of trauma may result in other health-related illnesses such as an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, memory loss, and high blood pressure (Ford et al., 2022). Social effects resulting from intrusive effects, such as poor judgment and loss of objectivity have been attributed to mild post-traumatic stress disorder. Intrusive thoughts may adversely affect an individual’s productivity as they unconsciously drift from concentrating at work to frequent daydreaming. In most cases, the victim may start working on future events and even doubt his present existence.


PTSD is a condition that can be easily treated if the victim seeks timely therapeutic interventions. The use of Trauma-focused therapy has been proven to be very effective in treating the condition as compared to medically induced techniques as illustrated throughout this paper. In general, the success rates for both mild and severe PTSD are relatively higher when the TFT approach is incorporated. Cognitive processing therapy allows the victim to restructure his entire thought process and behavioral patterns toward the betterment of emotions, experiences, and perceptions about his environment.

On the other hand, the prolonged exposure technique enables the victim to overcome repetitive and disturbing flashbacks or nightmares by introducing him to new realities that would eradicate the previously held traumatizing memories. Ideally, the perception of feeling stuck in a past occurrence is fully eradicated when the subject’s mental dimensions are stretched. These TFT facets collectively play a significant role in keeping PTSD patients’ minds in check, allowing room for healthy thoughts, fresh ideas, and, thus fresh experiences.

It is advisable that in case an individual notices any of the symptoms associated with PTSD, he should seek immediate consultation. This would prevent its escalation into severe levels such as suicidal thoughts and a drug dependency lifestyle. From the introductory paragraph, the spiraling proportion of men suffering from PTSD can only be reduced if they start seeking medical attention. With interventions such as Trauma-Focused Therapy in place, whose efficacy has already been proven, they would be able to access better health care thus improving the quality of their lives and families.


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PsychologyWriting. (2023) 'Trauma-Focused Therapy: Effectiveness on Patients Experiencing PTSD'. 15 March.


PsychologyWriting. 2023. "Trauma-Focused Therapy: Effectiveness on Patients Experiencing PTSD." March 15, 2023.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Trauma-Focused Therapy: Effectiveness on Patients Experiencing PTSD." March 15, 2023.


PsychologyWriting. "Trauma-Focused Therapy: Effectiveness on Patients Experiencing PTSD." March 15, 2023.