Early intervention in post-traumatic stress disorder without exposure to trauma memories using internet-delivered cognitive therapy: A pilot case series.
Thew GR., Wild J., Ehlers A.
OBJECTIVES: Trauma-focussed psychological interventions are the treatments of choice for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As many clinical services receive high demand for PTSD interventions, strategies to improve treatment efficiency are needed. Some people seek help in the early phase post-trauma, including as soon as the first few months. It is unclear whether all components of trauma-focussed CBT are needed in this initial stage. Providing brief intervention in this early phase without work on trauma memories may be feasible and effective. This service evaluation study describes a case series of five participants experiencing PTSD following recent traumas. METHODS: Participants completed a shortened 6-week form of Internet-delivered Cognitive Therapy for PTSD (iCT-PTSD), which used fewer treatment modules and focussed primarily on psychoeducation about PTSD, and two key treatment components, 'reclaiming your life' and trigger discrimination. Unlike the full course of iCT-PTSD, this format did not include working directly with trauma memories. RESULTS: The intervention was associated with large reductions in symptoms of PTSD, depression and anxiety at the 6-week timepoint, which were maintained at 3-month follow-up. Scores on the composite PTSD measure showed an average reduction of 91% between baseline and end of follow-up. One client required an extension to the weekly phase of treatment and received further treatment modules. All were discharged after follow-up and did not require further treatment. CONCLUSIONS: The findings provide preliminary evidence that this briefer format of iCT-PTSD was of benefit for those seeking support following recent traumas. Further examination in a larger controlled study is required.