Researchers from Cardiff University in Wales performed a systematic review of RCTs (randomized, controlled trials) of various psychological treatments for PTSD. The study looked at trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy/exposure therapy (TFCBT); stress management (SM – this is where guided imagery would mostly fit); supportive therapy; non-directive counseling; psychodynamic therapy; hypnotherapy; group cognitive behavioural therapy; and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).

Thirty-three studies wound up qualifying for inclusion in the review. There was no significant difference between TFCBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and SM (stress management) – both did significantly better than wait-list controls and than the other therapies.  EMDR also did significantly better.


There was no significant difference between the other therapies and waitlist/usual care controls.  

The study concluded that there was evidence individual TFCBT, EMDR, stress management and group TFCBT are effective in the treatment of PTSD.  Other non-trauma focused psychological treatments did not reduce PTSD symptoms as significantly.

Citation:  Bisson J, Andrew M. Psychological treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 Jul 18; (3):CD003388. [email protected]