Cognitive-behavioral therapy for PTSD and depression symptoms reduces risk for future intimate partner violence among interpersonal trauma survivors

J Consult Clin Psychol. 2011 Apr;79(2):193-202. doi: 10.1037/a0022512.


Objective: Women who develop symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression subsequent to interpersonal trauma are at heightened risk for future intimate partner violence (IPV) victimization. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is effective in reducing PTSD and depression symptoms, yet limited research has investigated the effectiveness of CBT in reducing risk for future IPV among interpersonal trauma survivors.

Method: This study examined the effect of CBT for PTSD and depressive symptoms on the risk of future IPV victimization in a sample of women survivors of interpersonal violence. The current sample included 150 women diagnosed with PTSD secondary to an array of interpersonal traumatic events; they were participating in a randomized clinical trial of different forms of cognitive processing therapy for the treatment of PTSD. Participants were assessed at 9 time points as part of the larger trial: pretreatment, 6 times during treatment, posttreatment, and 6-month follow-up.

Results: As hypothesized, reductions in PTSD and in depressive symptoms during treatment were associated with a decreased likelihood of IPV victimization at a 6-month follow-up even after controlling for recent IPV (i.e., IPV from a current partner within the year prior to beginning the study) and prior interpersonal traumas.

Conclusions: These findings highlight the importance of identifying and treating PTSD and depressive symptoms among interpersonal trauma survivors as a method for reducing risk for future IPV.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Crime Victims / psychology
  • Crime Victims / rehabilitation*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intention to Treat Analysis
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Regression Analysis
  • Spouse Abuse / psychology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy*