Research Shows Changing Appraisals Leads to Positive Outcomes for Those with PTSD

A traumatic event can have a lasting impact on an individual. For some, the memory of the event generates feelings of shame, guilt, anger, fear and other emotions. In the medical field, such reactions are often referred to as appraisals as they relate to the perceptions developed due to the traumatic event. If these appraisals could be changed, the reaction to the event may also change.

A post in Good Therapy explored this concept as researchers look for ways to help promote recovery for those with posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. A study recently conducted at King’s College explored whether or not changes in appraisals could predict a change in the severity of symptoms for those undergoing PTSD cognitive therapy.

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In an assessment of 268 individuals, all with varying symptom severity levels, a significant decrease in symptoms was measured as a result of cognitive therapy. The symptom results were directly predicted by appraisal changes and the majority of those involved were below the clinical threshold for PTSD after intervention was complete.

Study results showed that when appraisals were changed, so too were the symptoms associated with PTSD. As a result, cognitive mediation is a critical treatment method for those with PTSD. It also suggests that those with moderate or severe symptoms can receive the same level of benefit from this type of therapy.

Another promising result is the fact that even those participants with highly negative appraisals were able to benefit from this intervention. Such findings help clinicians and therapists to best design their treatments for PTSD to drive positive change.

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