Interoceptive Exposure Therapy Combined with Trauma‐related Exposure Therapy for Post‐traumatic Stress Disorder: a Case Report
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Trauma-related exposure therapy is a useful but not universally effective treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. Anxiety sensitivity may play an important role in this disorder, as it does in panic disorder. Studies have shown that interoceptive exposure therapy reduces anxiety sensitivity in panic disorder. The present case study was a preliminary investigation of the merits of including interoceptive exposure therapy in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, in order to improve treatment outcome for a patient who had no history of panic disorder or panic attacks. Interoceptive exposure therapy (4 sessions) was one component of treatment, combined with trauma-related exposure therapy (4 sessions of imaginal exposure followed by 4 sessions of in vivo exposure). Treatment outcome was assessed with the Clinician-Administered Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Scale, a self-report measure of post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, and measures of symptoms and cognitions commonly associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. Scores on all outcome measures decreased over the course of treatment, with gains maintained at 1- and 3-month follow-up. Symptoms of anxiety sensitivity and post-traumatic stress disorder decreased during interoceptive exposure therapy. The results indicate that interoceptive exposure therapy is a promising adjunctive intervention for post-traumatic stress disorder. Further research is needed into the merits of combining interoceptive exposure therapy and trauma-related exposure therapy as a means of boosting treatment efficacy.
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