What are some evidence-based trauma interventions for adults with serious mental illness?

While many existing evidence-supported or promising practices for the treatment of PTSD are being adapted and tested for efficacy with individuals living with severe mental illness, currently available evidence highlights Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PET), and Eye movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) as the most evidence-supported trauma therapies for adults living with a disabling mental health condition. Before you begin any of the below interventions, seek out the appropriate training and supervision.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT methods includes education about post traumatic stress disorder, normalization of the experience, and teaching coping tools for in the moment distress. View this article for more information on a 3 session therapy that is designed for people who have SMI: A Brief Intervention for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Persons with a Serious Mental Illness.

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT): CPT is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that helps patients learn how to modify and challenge unhelpful beliefs related to the trauma. Visit the American Psychological Association for more information.

Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PET): Prolonged exposure is a specific type of cognitive behavioral therapy that teaches individuals to gradually approach trauma-related memories, feelings and situations. Visit the American Psychological Association for more information.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR involves focusing on a trauma memory while simultaneously experiencing bilateral stimulation (typically eye movements), which is associated with a reduction in the strength of the emotion associated with the trauma memories. Visit the American Psychological Association for more information.

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