Changes in cognitive processes and coping strategies precede changes in symptoms during cognitive therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder.
Wiedemann M., Janecka M., Wild J., Warnock-Parkes E., Stott R., Grey N., Clark DM., Ehlers A.
Theories of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) highlight the role of cognitive and behavioral factors in its development, maintenance, and treatment. This study investigated the relationship between changes in factors specified in Ehlers and Clark's (2000) model of PTSD and PTSD symptom change in 217 patients with PTSD who were treated with cognitive therapy for PTSD (CT-PTSD) in routine clinical care. Bivariate latent change score models (LCSM) of session-by-session changes in self-report measures showed that changes in PTSD symptoms were preceded by changes in negative appraisals, flashback characteristics of unwanted memories, safety behaviours, and unhelpful responses to intrusions, but not vice versa. For changes in trauma memory disorganization and PTSD symptoms we found a bidirectional association. This study provides evidence that cognitive and behavioral processes proposed in theoretical models of PTSD play a key role in driving symptom improvement during CT-PTSD.