Effective Therapies to Treat PTSD

The path to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) recovery has many forks in the road, is long, winding, and personalized.  Finding the right path that works for an individual sometimes takes trial and error and continuous research.  What works for one may not work for another.  Some work well within a group, and others work best alone.  Sometimes, it takes a combination of different treatment programs to find forward momentum and success.  There are three main options, to date:


The most highly recommended type of treatment for PTSD is trauma-focused psychotherapy.  It takes about 8-16 sessions to complete.  Here three types that show the best evidence for treatment:

  1. Prolonged Exposure (PE): a repeated revisiting of trauma in a safe setting, it allows for a change of reaction to memories of trauma and gives the ability to learn how to master fear- and stress-inducing situations.
  2. Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT): focuses on the impact of trauma, identifies the negative thoughts related to that event, understand how those thoughts case stress, replace those negative thoughts and cope with the upsetting feelings.
  3. Eye-movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): focuses on other stimuli while revisiting the experience (therapy guided eye movements or follow hand taps), helps reprocess traumatic information until no longer psychologically disruptive.


When non-drug treatment is not enough, pharmacotherapy is introduced.  Medications have been shown to be helpful in the treatment of symptoms.

Recreational Therapy

Recreational therapy is another option in keeping symptoms of PTSD from taking over your life.  Here are some organizations that offer these services.

Outward Bound for Veterans – helps active duty service members and veterans readjust to life at home through powerful wilderness courses that draw on the healing benefit of teamwork and challenge through the use of the natural world.  Powerful wilderness courses include rafting, sailing, or dog sledding.

Warrior Built Foundation – The purpose of our foundation is to provide new motivation, camaraderie and to spark their imagination by constructing any type of vehicle from the ground up.  Veterans are exposed to fabrication and mechanics.

Project Sanctuary – brings health and wellness to military families. They are assessed to determine if they need support and services now or if they can be scheduled for a retreat.

Operation Freedom Paws – Empowers veterans to restore their own independence.  Trains clients to train a service dog for their specific needs.  Builds human-canine service teams.  Provides the support needed for clients to succeed.  Find out more about their Application Process.

Shelter to Soldier – brings veterans and rescue dogs together to recover and move forward.  You can apply online.

One Step Closer Therapeutic Riding – OSC signed a formal agreement with Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System to provide equine assisted therapy to U.S. Military Veterans recovering from the physical and emotional trauma of war.  The pilot program with five Veterans and is now serving approximately 10-15 per week and more than 300 Veterans per year across several V.A. departments.  Get to know these creatures by viewing their Equine Profiles.

National Center for Equine Facilitated Therapy – the Veterans Program offers active-duty and retired military personnel the opportunity to participate at no cost. The program encourages physical and cognitive rehabilitation, providing Veterans with a safe environment in which to regain their independence, confidence, and strength.  Their offer services such as equine-assisted therapy, adaptive riding, adaptive horsemanship, or equine-assisted mental and behavioral health.  Read the NCEFT Veteran Program FAQs for answers to common questions about their program.

Choosing a treatment can be very difficult because there are not one-size fits all type of treatment.  To help compare treatments, visit the VA’s PTSD Treatment Decision Aid or take a look at their Treatment comparison chart.  This decision aid helps you learn about effective PTSD treatment options. You can read about the treatments or watch videos explaining how they work. You can even build a chart to compare the treatments you like most. In the end, you will get a personalized summary.

Research for PTSD treatment for veterans continue and we will always be looking for what’s new, what’s working now, and what does the future hold?

Here are links to other sources to learn more about PTSD.
National Center for PTSD
Make the Connection
About Face
Warrior Wellness Solutions
Road Home Program
Give An Hour

Here at Know A Vet?, we strive to share resources with our military community.  Do you know of local resources that have done well in treating our veterans and service members in need?  Please share your knowledge and help us help our vets.

Non-VA Local Help

Know A Vet? presents this information and these national resource directories, not as a recommendation of any specific service or provider, but as a starting point for your own research.

Please feel free to use the check sheets Before, During and After the Medical Appointment and Choosing a Medical Service Provider to help you in your search for the best help for your individual circumstances.

In addition, there may be other federal, state and local government or private resources for your individual needs.

VA, Government and Organization Help

Know A Vet? presents this information and these national resource directories, not as a recommendation of any specific service or provider, but as a starting point for your own research.

Clicking here will bring you to a database of other VA services you can locate by zip code.

Please also check out our page on Filing Claims. We recommend that you do NOT file claims on your own.  If you do not file exactly the way the VA looks for information, it can take literally years for your claim to go back and forth before approval or denial.

The other resources listed, such as your local Veterans Service Office  (names vary by county), VSO counseloror, VFW, etc., will help you determine what you are eligible for and file correctly for results in as little as a few weeks.

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