Imaginal exposure alone and imaginal exposure with cognitive restructuring in treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder

J Consult Clin Psychol. 2003 Aug;71(4):706-12. doi: 10.1037/0022-006x.71.4.706.


This study investigated the extent to which providing cognitive restructuring (CR) with prolonged imaginal exposure (IE) would lead to greater symptom reduction than providing IE alone for participants with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Fifty-eight civilian survivors of trauma with PTSD were randomly allocated to IE/CR, IE, or supportive counseling (SC). Treatment involved 8 individual weekly sessions with considerable homework. Independent assessments were conducted pretreatment, posttreatment, and at 6-month follow-up. IE/CR and IE resulted in reduced PTSD and depression compared with SC at posttreatment and follow-up. Further, IE/CR participants had greater reductions in PTSD and maladaptive cognitive styles than IE participants at follow-up. These findings suggest that providing CR in combination with IE may enhance treatment gains.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imagination*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome