Comparative efficacy, speed, and adverse effects of three PTSD treatments: Exposure therapy, EMDR, and relaxation training. Academic Article uri icon

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  • The authors examined the efficacy, speed, and incidence of symptom worsening for 3 treatments of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD): prolonged exposure, relaxation training, or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR; N = 60). Treaments did not differ in attrition, in the incidence of symptom worsening, or in their effects on numbing and hyperarousal symptoms. Compared with EMDR and relaxation training, exposure therapy (a) produced significantly larger reductions in avoidance and reexperiencing symptoms, (b) tended to be faster at reducing avoidance, and (c) tended to yield a greater proportion of participants who no longer met criteria for PTSD after treatment. EMDR and relaxation did not differ from one another in speed or efficacy.


  • Taylor, S. Martin
  • Thordarson, Dana S
  • Maxfield, Louise
  • Fedoroff, Ingrid C
  • Lovell, Karina
  • Ogrodniczuk, John

publication date

  • April 2003