Prolonged Exposure (PE) therapy is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) that is specifically designed for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PE therapy is based on the principle that individuals with PTSD avoid reminders of the traumatic event, which leads to increased anxiety and fear. PE therapy aims to help individuals with PTSD confront and overcome their fears by gradually exposing them to the memories and situations they have been avoiding.
PE therapy typically consists of 8-15 weekly sessions, each lasting between 90 and 120 minutes. The therapy is led by a trained therapist who guides the patient through a series of exercises designed to help them process and make sense of the traumatic event. These exercises include:
In Vivo Exposure: This involves gradually exposing the patient to real-life situations or objects that they have been avoiding due to their PTSD symptoms.
Imaginal Exposure: This involves having the patient imagine and talk through the traumatic event in a safe and controlled environment.
The therapist also helps the patient to develop coping strategies for managing symptoms such as anxiety and depression.
PE therapy has been found to be effective in reducing symptoms of PTSD, depression, and anxiety in individuals who have experienced traumatic events. It is considered a first-line treatment for PTSD by many mental health organizations and it is supported by numerous scientific studies.