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Ten misconceptions about trauma-focused CBT for PTSD

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Hannah Murray, Nick Grey, Emma Warnock-Parkes, Alice Kerr, Jennifer Wild, David M. Clark, Anke Ehlers

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere33
JournalCognitive Behaviour Therapist
Published22 Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: The authors were funded by Wellcome Trust grant 200796 (awarded to A.E. and D.M.C.) and the Oxford Health NIHR Biomedical Research Centre. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health. Publisher Copyright: ©

King's Authors


Therapist cognitions about trauma-focused psychological therapies can affect our implementation of evidence-based therapies for post-Traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), potentially reducing their effectiveness. Based on observations gleaned from teaching and supervising one of these treatments, cognitive therapy for PTSD (CT-PTSD), ten common 'misconceptions' were identified. These included misconceptions about the suitability of the treatment for some types of trauma and/or emotions, the need for stabilisation prior to memory work, the danger of 'retraumatising' patients with memory-focused work, the risks of using memory-focused techniques with patients who dissociate, the remote use of trauma-focused techniques, and the perception of trauma-focused CBT as inflexible. In this article, these misconceptions are analysed in light of existing evidence and guidance is provided on using trauma-focused CT-PTSD with a broad range of presentations. Key learning aims (1) To recognise common misconceptions about trauma-focused CBT for PTSD and the evidence against them. (2) To widen understanding of the application of cognitive therapy for PTSD (CT-PTSD) to a broad range of presentations. (3) To increase confidence in the formulation-driven, flexible, active and creative delivery of CT-PTSD.

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