Interpersonal Factors in Understanding and Treating Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

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Exposure to reminders of trauma underlies the theory and practice of most treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), yet exposure may not be the sole important treatment mechanism. Interpersonal features of PTSD influence its onset, chronicity, and possibly its treatment. The authors review interpersonal factors in PTSD, including the critical but underrecognized role of social support as both protective posttrau-ma and as a mechanism of recovery. They discuss interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) as an alternative treatment for PTSD and present encouraging findings from two initial studies. Highlighting the potential importance of attachment and interpersonal relationships, the authors propose a mechanism to explain why improving relationships may ameliorate PTSD symptoms. (Journal of Psychiatric Practice 2009;15:133–140).

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