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Objective: The role of group therapy in treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been traditionally restricted to issues of self-esteem and interpersonal relationships, rather than primary symptoms of the disorder. In this study, the authors examined the effectiveness of a 16-week trauma-focused, cognitive-behavioral group therapy, named Interactive Psychoeducational Group Therapy, in reducing primary symptoms of PTSD in five groups (N=29) of multiply traumatized women diagnosed with chronic PTSD. Method: The authors made assessments at baseline, at 1-month intervals during treatment, at termination, and at 6-month follow-up by using self-report and structured interview measures of PTSD and psychiatric symptoms. The absence of a control group limits the conclusions drawn from the study. Results: At termination, subjects showed significant reductions in all three clusters of PTSD symptoms (i.e., reexperiencing, avoidance, and hyperarousal) and in depressive symptoms; they showed near-significant reductions in general psychiatric and dissociative symptoms, at termination. These improvements were sustained at 6-month follow-up. Conclusions: The role of group therapy in PTSD treatment should not be prematurely restricted to addressing self-esteem and interpersonal dimensions only. The use of structured, cognitive-behavioral elements within the group format may allow for more targeted treatment of core symptoms of the disorder.


Previously published: Am J Psychiatry 1998; 155:1172–1177. Publisher has granted permission to reprint here.



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