Effects of three PTSD treatments on anger and guilt: exposure therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, and relaxation training

J Trauma Stress. 2006 Feb;19(1):19-28. doi: 10.1002/jts.20095.


This study sought to investigate the efficacy of prolonged exposure, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, and relaxation training on trait anger and guilt and on trauma-related anger and guilt within the context of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatment. Fifteen PTSD patients completed each treatment and were assessed at posttreatment and at 3-month follow-up. All three treatments were associated with significant reductions in all measures of anger and guilt, with gains maintained at follow-up. There were no significant treatment differences in efficacy or in the proportion of patients who worsened on anger or guilt measures over the course of treatment. Between-treatment effect sizes were generally very small. Results suggest that all three treatments are associated with reductions in anger and guilt, even for patients who initially have high levels of these emotions. However, these PTSD therapies may not be sufficient for treating anger and guilt; additional interventions may be required.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anger*
  • Desensitization, Psychologic*
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Eye Movements / physiology*
  • Female
  • Guilt*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Relaxation Therapy*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy*