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Prolonged Exposure Therapy — In Veterans’ Words

March 05, 2019 | 2-minute read

Read Stories > Prolonged Exposure Therapy — In Veterans’ Words

“It’s a very intense therapy,” says Steven, a U.S. Army Veteran, who underwent prolonged exposure therapy to help him manage his symptoms of PTSD. “But it’s by far one of the most important, because I probably would not be here if I hadn’t done the therapies.”

What is prolonged exposure therapy and how does it work? According to VA’s National Center for PTSD, prolonged exposure therapy teaches Veterans to gradually approach trauma-related memories, feelings, and situations that they have avoided revisiting since experiencing trauma. Confronting these challenges can decrease PTSD symptoms.

“You keep repeating [the memory] and reliving it until it seems normal to you,” says Scott, a U.S. Navy Veteran. “It seemed to help quite a bit.”

For Stephanie, the difference in her ability to confront her past before and after the therapy was like night and day. “I felt like this thing was chasing me — this big ugly monster after me,” she says. “And then [after treatment], I turned around and it was really just a mouse.”

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