While prolonged exposure is considered one of the “gold standard” and recommended treatments for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it has been poorly utilised in clinical practice. Individuals with PTSD often find it too distressing to confront memories, and therapists may be uncomfortable using the therapy. A new Emotional Processing Therapy is described in which an emotional approach to prolonged exposure provides individuals with a new insight into how trauma is processed. A conceptual analysis of exposure suggests that it is exposure to distressing emotional experiences which is a key element. Viewing it as an emotion-based therapy, allows the creative addition of new emotional elements. Through exploring the individual’s emotional processing style, previously learned and unhelpful patterns can be addressed, and the addition of an “emotional preparation” phase helps them understand why it is important to face emotionally distressing memories before exposure sessions begin. Emotional Processing Therapy is intuitive and makes sense to those affected by PTSD. It is framed in an emotional context and is presented as part of a lifestyle change that may reduce the likelihood of psychological problems developing in the future.
Abbey, G., Baker, R., Gale, L., & Thomas, S. (2013). Emotional processing therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 26(3/4), 362-385. https://doi.org/10.1080/09515070.2013.816840